‘Yel­low vest’ protests won’t change fuel tax: Eman­nuel Macron

The Daily News Egypt - - News -

DW– French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron stuck to his guns re­gard­ing France’s fuel taxes on Tues­day, say­ing he won’t “change course” amid the coun­try-wide “yel­low vest” protests.

In a highly an­tic­i­pated speech in Paris on en­ergy strat­egy, Macron ac­knowl­edged the wide­spread anger re­gard­ing fuel taxes over the past 10 days, but said he will con­tinue mak­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly poli­cies.

“What I’ve taken from these last few days is that we shouldn’t change course be­cause it is the right one and nec­es­sary,” he said. “We need to change how we work be­cause a num­ber of our cit­i­zens feel this pol­icy course is im­posed on them from above.”

How­ever, the French pres­i­dent said he un­der­stood that the in­crease in diesel tax, which kicked in just as prices were ris­ing,in­flicted more dam­age than an­tic­i­pated. Macron said that fuel taxes would be ad­justed to take ac­count of sharp rises in world oil prices.

“We need to change how we work be­cause a num­ber of our cit­i­zens feel this pol­icy course is im­posed on them from above,” he said.

‘Won’t give in to de­struc­tion and dis­or­der’

Macron con­demned the vi­o­lence that has re­sulted from the protests, which have in­volved hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple don­ning yel­low vests car­ried in all French ve­hi­cles for use in case of a traf­fic ac­ci­dent or ve­hi­cle break-down.

“I un­der­stand the de­mands of these cit­i­zens, but I won’t give in to those who want de­struc­tion and dis­or­der,” he said.

Two peo­ple have been killed and 606 peo­ple in­jured since the protests be­gan, ac­cord­ing to France’s In­te­rior Min­istry.

The “yel­low vest” move­ment sprang up spon­ta­neously last month in re­sponse to hikes in car fuel taxes. About 300,000 peo­ple took part in a na­tion­wide protest ear­lier this month, many ob­struct­ing high­way ex­its, gas sta­tions and traf­fic cir­cles. Last week, 100,000 peo­ple con­tin­ued the protest, in­clud­ing hun­dreds who gath­ered on the Champs-El­y­sees in Paris car­ry­ing signs that read“Macron,thief!” and “Macron, re­sign!”

Re­gional lead­ers had called for Macron to put off gas tax in­creases, say­ing in a col­umn in news mag­a­zine L’Opin­ion the French Pres­i­dent should have “the courage to take the time to re­write” the eco­log­i­cal tax code “in a more so­cially ac­cept­able, trans­par­ent and tar­geted way.” De­layed cap on nu­clear en­ergy Macron also said France will move more slowly to limit the amount of en­ergy it de­rives from nu­clear en­ergy, declar­ing that only the Fessen­heim nu­clear power plant will be closed be­fore the end of the pres­i­den­tial man­date, which runs un­til 2022.

France, which draws 75% of its en­ergy from 19 nu­clear power plants, will shut down 14 nu­clear re­ac­tors and re­duce its share of nu­clear power pro­duc­tion to 50% by 2035, Macron said, adding that nu­clear power will not be phased out en­tirely. Macron’s pre­de­ces­sor, Fran­cois Hol­lande, wanted to achieve a sim­i­lar goal by 2025.

“I was not elected on a prom­ise to exit nu­clear power but to re­duce the share of nu­clear in our en­ergy mix to 50 per­cent,” he said.

As part of the nu­clear pol­icy, Macron said France would aim to broaden and bol­ster en­ergy sup­plies by in­creas­ing the num­ber of in­ter-con­nec­tors with neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. He also promised to de­velop re­new­able en­ergy to re­place nu­clear power, say­ing his pri­or­ity is to wane France’s econ­omy off of fu­els that con­trib­ute to global warm­ing.

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