French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged widespread anger over fuel taxes expressed by protesters over the last 10 days, but said he would not back down on environmentally friendly policies. Here's how the French leader responded to the demands of the 'yellow vests'.
Published: 27 November 2018 12:53 CET
The 'yellow vest' fuel protesters have finally heard from the French president.
In a speech in front of France's National Council for the Ecological Transition (CNTE), composed of elected representatives, unions, NGOs and associations on Tuesday, Macron presented his plan for nuclear energy and took the opportunity to announce some measures in a bid to appease the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) fuel protesters.
“I believe deeply that we can transform anger into solutions,” Macron said.
Je crois profondément que nous pouvons transformer les colères en solutions.
One of the newly appointed official spokespeople for the 'yellow vest' movement Jason Herbert said in an interview with BFM TV that he feels the consultation suggested by Macron “goes in the right direction but isn't a strong enough signal that there is an urgency to deal with the situation”.
Macron also instructed his Environment Minister Francois de Rugy to hold talks with the eight people nominated as spokespersons for the gilets jaunes, which will take place on Tuesday afternoon at the Environment Ministry
Macron said he does not want the push to protect the environment to accentuate inequalities between those living in rural France and those living in cities.
“I refuse to accept a two-speed France,” he said, adding that he does not want those with the most modest incomes to have to fork out more because they don't have the money to make the shift to greener cars and sources of heating – known as the “ecological transition”.
On a similar note, the president said during his speech that “the car does have a future in France”
For Emmanuel Macron, the conversion grant which some people will receive to help them afford a more environmentally friendly car will be boosted goes hand in hand with the transport bill announced on Monday and will help create jobs in the automotive industry.
Macron also stressed that he was under no illusions about the fact that a citizens movement had been tainted by extremists.
“I do not confuse the rioters and the fellow citizens who protest,” he said, referring to the incidents of violence, such as the riots seen at the protest in Paris on Saturday, that have been associated with the movement.
“I do not confuse these unacceptable acts with the protest movement they are associated with.”
His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.
It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.
Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.
Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.
The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.
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