Paris: The French government has reportedly decided to suspend planned fuel tax hikes in a bid to end two weeks of violent protests in the country over the matter.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is preparing to announce the suspension, which will be accompanied by other government moves intended to calm the protesters, AFP reported on Tuesday, citing “government sources.”
According to the sources, President Emmanuel Macron decided to suspend the 2019 fuel tax increases late on Monday after his administration members spent the day negotiating with leaders from all political parties.
Philippe, the report added, will announce the fuel tax suspension later on Tuesday after holding talks with legislators in his Republic on the Move Party.
The French prime minister will not, however, meet with a delegation of the “yellow vests” out of “security” concerns, after several of them said they had received death threats by angry protesters challenging their claims of representing the grassroots movement, according to Philippe’s office.
The suspension of the fuel tax hike was among the key demands listed by the “yellow vest” leaders, in addition to a higher minimum wage and the restoration of a wealth tax on the rich, which was abolished last year.
The intense protest events, which degenerated into street clashes and vandalism throughout Paris over the weekend, broke out last month over the fuel taxes aimed at financing France’s anti-pollution measures.
The massive protests were initially triggered by the rising cost of fuel this year, and 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.
‘Income inequality getting worse across Europe’
A French professor of political economy, Jack Rasmus, told Press TV that income inequality is on the rise in France.
“Income inequality is getting worse, and Europe looks like it is heading to another recession,” Rasmus said. “Germany is already contracting.”
Pointing to a slowing economic growth across Europe, Rasmus said, “People haven’t recovered from the last crisis. They are getting squeezed. This is just not workers and collective bargaining, but small businesses.”
Many influential figures in France have reportedly been pressing Macron to alleviate the popular anger after witnessing the urban battles in the country’s capital on Saturday, when dozens of automobiles were burned and businesses attacked and looted.