Philippe confirmed in a live TV address that the controversial hike on fuel taxes would be suspended for at least six months, but “Yellow Vest” protesters suggested they would continue protests.
The PM also announced a freeze on regulated electricity and gas prices which were due to rise in January.
Stricter vehicle emission controls set to kick in in January 2019 will also be suspended, one of the demands of the “yellow vest” movement which erupted
last month, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed.
The PM also announced that a tightening of the technical assessment for cars (controle technique) , which was set to penalise heavily polluting older vehicles, would also be suspended for six months.
Philippe also called for calm ahead of another planned protest in Paris on Saturday.
“No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger,” Philippe said in a televised address, adding that the anger on the streets “originates from a
profound injustice: of not being able to live with dignity from one's work”.
“You would have to be deaf or blind to not hear this anger,” said Philippe. “The French people who have worn a yellow vest love their country. They want taxes to be cut and for jobs to pay. That's what we want too.”
He added that any future protests should be declared in advance and “take place calmly”.
“All French people have the right to protest, but all French people also have the right to security,” said Philippe.
“If there is a new day of protest on Saturday it must take place peacefully.”
Those protests will likely still go ahead given the reaction of some “yellow vests” to the government's move.
“The actions will continue, we are not satisfied. These are just measures to calm the situation,” read a statement from the Yellow Friday Revolution, a group of “yellow vests” in the Bordeaux region.
If the debate on Twitter was anything to go by many yellow vest protesters will be back in the streets and at road blocks on Saturday.
The French Prime Minister also announced that a three-month national consultation on taxes would begin in January.
But in a warning to the public the Prime Minister said that: “if taxes fall, public spending must fall” adding that the government was not prepared to increase the level of the country's debt and leave it to the next generation to pay off.
The decision to scrap the hike on fuel taxes might appease the yellow vests and please Paris police and those living in the west of the city, but environmentalists are unlikely to be happy.
The French PM reiterated the government's desire to “fight against pollution and climate change”, but accepted “we need to provide better help to French people” in the transition to greener energy.