France abandons fuel tax hike amid fear of more unrest


The French prime minister says the country’s government has entirely abandoned a fuel tax hike that was previously suspended for six months amid fear of more protests.

Addressing the French National Assembly on Wednesday, Edouard Philippe announced that the government has removed the tax hike from the 2019 financial budget in a bid to show its willingness to talk.

“Easing [of tensions], dialogue, calmness and determination, are the terms I want to raise before the national representatives,” Philippe noted.

He warned that what the country is “experiencing at the moment is not without danger for the security” of French citizens.

“I firmly believe that when we put good willing people around the table to work, we can always find solutions,” the premier added.

Philippe’s remarks come a day after the government announced that it would suspend the tax increase for a period of six months.

The bloody protests, known as the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests, a reference to the vests worn by people active in the transportation industry, began on November 17 in opposition to the rise in taxes on diesel and gasoline. But they rapidly expanded into a wider revolt against government policies, which stands accused of pursuing policies that primarily impact low-income households in the European nation.

The violence left four people dead and, according to officials, seriously damaged France’s economy, with trade in retailers, hotel chains, high-street stores, and restaurants significantly falling.

It also severely hurt President Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings, which now matches the low standing by his predecessor Francois Hollande in late 2013, according to Paris Match. Hollande at the time was considered to be the least popular French leader in the nation’s modern history.

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