French President Emmanuel Macron has given in to the demands of the Yellow Vest protesters and cancelled a planned fuel tax increase slated for January, French media reports.
“No suspension, no moratorium, the increase in fuel taxes on January 1 is canceled,” Macron reportedly said on Wednesday.
The statement comes after Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the government would suspend the tax hike for six months, which was met with severe backlash in France.
Philippe acknowledged the permanent cancellation Wednesday, revealing the proposal had been officially taken off the 2019 budget.
“The government is ready for dialogue and has proven so, because the proposed tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill,” he told lawmakers.
“I have no problem with admitting that on such or such question we could have done differently, that if there is such a level of anger…it’s because we still have a lot of things to improve.”
Though the embattled French president, whose approval rating sits at an all-time low of 23%, acknowledged the people’s anger last week, he had still doubled down on his decision to implement the tax hike.
“I have seen, like many French people, the difficulties for people who have to drive a lot and have problems making ends meet at the end of the month,” he said.
“We must not change course, because the policy direction is right and necessary,” he said. “But we need to change how we work because a number of our citizens feel this policy course is imposed on them from above.”
The culmination of the Yellow Vest movement over the last few weeks broke into chaos on Saturday as Paris was rocked by the worst rioting in decades with more than 130 people injured, 412 arrested, and torched cars and vandalized shops lining the Champs-Élysées Avenue.
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