French PM to announce suspension of fuel tax hikes: Government sources

French Prime Minister on Tuesday suspended planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is expected to announce the fuel tax suspension after meeting lawmakers in his Republic on the Move party.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is expected to announce the fuel tax suspension after meeting lawmakers in his Republic on the Move party.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to announce on Tuesday (Dec 4) a suspension of fuel tax increases planned for Jan 1 in a move to end violent "yellow vest" protests against the measure, government sources said on Tuesday.

The suspension will be accompanied by other measures aimed at calming two weeks of nationwide demonstrations by the protesters, the sources said.

The demonstrations, which degenerated into street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend, erupted last month over the fuel taxes which are financing France's anti-pollution efforts.

Originally spurred by the soaring cost of fuel this year, they quickly ballooned into a wider revolt over President Emmanuel Macron, accused of pursuing policies which hit low-income households particularly hard.

Halting the fuel tax increase was one of the main demands listed by "yellow vest" leaders, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners abolished last year.

Macron made the decision to suspend the 2019 fuel tax hikes late on Monday, the sources said, after his government spent the day meeting with leaders from all of France's political parties.

Many were pressing the President to assuage the anger after the running urban battles seen in the capital last Saturday, when dozens of cars were burned and shops attacked and looted.

 
 

Philippe will announce the fuel tax suspension later on Tuesday after meeting lawmakers in his Republic on the Move party.

But the Prime Minister's office confirmed that Philippe would not meet a delegation of the "yellow vests" for "security reasons", after several said they had received threats by protesters contesting their claim to represent the grassroots movement.