Macron Re­treats on Fuel Tax Hikes


PARIS (Dis­patches) - The French gov­ern­ment has backed down on planned fuel tax hikes in a bid to draw the heat out of fierce protests that have es­ca­lated into the deep­est cri­sis of Em­manuel Macron’s pres­i­dency.

The con­ces­sions, com­ing after an ear­lier 500-mil­lion-euro ($570 mil­lion) re­lief pack­age for poorer house­holds, mark the first time 40-year-old Macron has given ground in the face of pub­lic op­po­si­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe an­nounced Tues­day roll­backs on fuel taxes and elec­tric­ity price in­creases in a rare tele­vised ad­dress after France was rocked by in­tense street clashes and van­dal­ism in Paris over the week­end.

“This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it,” Philippe said after more than a fort­night of demon­stra­tions by so-called “yel­low vest” protesters.

“No tax mer­its putting the unity of the na­tion in dan­ger,” he said.

Planned tax in­creases on petrol and diesel on Jan­uary 1 will be sus­pended for six months, while hikes in reg­u­lated elec­tric­ity and gas prices will be frozen dur­ing the win­ter.

Pres­sure has been mount­ing on the gov­ern­ment after protests de­gen­er­ated into the worst street clashes in cen­tral Paris for decades.

Across France, four peo­ple have been killed in ac­ci­dents linked to the demon­stra­tions and road block­ades, and hun­dreds in­jured.

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