|Author (Corporate)||Cardiff EDC|
Hundreds of thousands of people took part in protests across France in November and December 2018 over rising fuel prices and overall cost of living. The 'yellow vest' movement (Yellow Vests - Gilets Jaunes) set up roadblocks and held demonstrations, causing major disruption and a number of casualties.
The protests were called following the approval by the French government of a measure increasing a direct tax on diesel, as well as a tax on carbon, in an effort to fight against the use of fossil fuels. President Emmanuel Macron initially vowed not dismiss these measures, but as protests became more violent, the French authorities later decided to drop the implementation of the tax change. On 10 December, Mr Macron decided to address the nation and announce a set of measures aimed at easing the social unrest. This did not entirely stop the protests, although it appeared to reduce the number of demonstrators across the country.
The measure, which sets taxes on diesel rise by 6.5 cents and 2.9 cents on petrol from January, was approved by the French cabinet in late 2017.
Dozens of petitions were launched online urging the French President to repeal the tax hike. The protests were the latest sign of discontent amongst a largely working class population, which argues policies put forward by Mr Macron's leadership favour the metropolitan elite only. In order to counter this argument, the government unveiled a €500 million package of measures to support low-income households, including energy subsidies and higher scrap page bonuses for the purchase of cleaner vehicles.
Faced with violent anti-government protests in Paris, the President announced on 27 November a set of new measures in an attempt to rally support for environment-friendly tax increases. He announced further financial help for French people to help them make the shift to greener cars and sources of heating - known as the 'ecological transition', but said he would not back down on environmentally friendly policies.
Protests became increasingly violent in early December. The French government performed a U-turn by announcing on 4 December a suspension in the implementation of the tax change. The 'yellow vest' movement vowed to continue demonstrating against the rising cost of living in France. On the following day, the Prime Minister told Parliament the tax increase had been excluded from the annual budget proposal. Facing continuing societal instability, President Macron decided to address the nation on 10 December and announced a set of measures aimed at easing lives of those less well-off. It was later highlighted these measures would affect the country's budget deficit.
The protests continued into the New Year, leading to a government decision to crack down on unsanctioned protests. In the meantime, the deputy head of Italy's government showed his support to the 'yellow vest' movement in France, gathering criticism from the French authorities. As violent clashes continued throughout January 2019, President Macron published an open letter to the French people launching a national debate on the issues behind the rise of the movement. Some media sources reported the emergence of anti-media rhetoric among yellow vest protesters.
|Subject Tags||Fossil Fuels, National Politics|
|Countries / Regions||France|