France Said It Wouldn't Budge on Fuel Tax. It Just Did

Tax hikes have been suspended for several months after violent protests, per PM
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 4, 2018 6:01 AM CST
After Violence, France Moves to Assuage Protesters
Ambulance workers hold flares outside the National Assembly in Paris on Monday.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a suspension of fuel tax hikes Tuesday, a major U-turn in an effort to appease a protest movement that radicalized and plunged Paris into chaos last weekend, French media report. Both Le Monde newspaper and France Info radio said the planned increase, which has provoked violent riots, will be suspended for several months. Philippe is also expected to announce other measures aimed at easing tensions, just three weeks after insisting the government wouldn't change course and remained determined to help wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels, per the AP. Philippe told lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron's party first and was expected to make an official declaration later Tuesday. "We must appease the situation for the French people," Philippe was quoted as saying by Le Monde.

The protests began last month with motorists upset over the fuel tax hike and have grown to encompass a range of complaints. The planned new tax was to increase gasoline prices by 4 euro cents per liter beginning in January. Gasoline currently costs about 1.42 euros a liter in Paris, slightly more than diesel. More than 100 people were injured in Paris and 412 arrested over the weekend during France's worst urban riot in years, with dozens of cars torched. Since the movement kicked off on Nov. 17, three people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests. It's unlikely Philippe's announcement will put an end to the road blockades and demonstrations, with more possible protests this weekend in Paris. On Tuesday, many protesters insisted their fight was not over. "It's a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb," one protest leader says. (More France stories.)

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