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'You're right': Macron answers online petition as lawmakers back emergency measures

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'You're right': Macron answers online petition as lawmakers back emergency measures
Photo: AFP
09:33 CET+01:00
President Emmanuel Macron responded directly to an online petition against fuel tax hikes telling the million signatories "you're right". On the same day the country's parliament backed the emergency concessions Macron had announced to calm the "yellow vest" protest movement.
Macron called the petition, which suggests several ways to fight fossil fuel pollution without raising fuel taxes, a "citizens' act".
   
"Your message, I heard it. I am responding to you directly, you are right," Macron wrote to the million plus people who signed the petition at the website 
Change.org.
   
He reminded the petition signers that his government has cancelled the planned increase in fuel tax and that no hikes in gas and electricity prices would be made during the winter.
   
While restating that reducing fossil fuels which contribute to climate change was a necessary action, Macron added that it "must not put the problems of the end of the world in opposition to the problems at the end of the month" -- alluding to the anger of the "yellow vest" protest movement about the cost of living in France and the difficulty in making ends meet each month.
 
French government to rush through €10 billion worth of concessions for 'yellow vests'
   
After weeks of protests on consecutive Saturdays in cities across the country, which often turned violent, Macron last week announced a series of further concessions, including a 100 euro increase for five million minimum wage earners, the removal of a planned tax increase for a majority of pensioners, and tax-free overtime pay for all workers.
   
On Friday, the French National Assembly approved the package of emergency concessions.
 
The measures provide a "quick, strong and concrete response" to the crisis, said the labour minister Muriel Penicaud in a debate which lasted into the early hours of Friday morning. 
   
The measures include the removal of a planned tax increase for a majority of pensioners and tax-free overtime pay for all workers.
   
Economists estimate the cuts will cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).
   
The concessions will now move to the Senate for approval. 
 
Tens of thousands of people joined rallies across France on consecutive Saturdays in a movement which sprung up over fuel tax hikes but snowballed into broader opposition to Macron.
   
Police this week said they would start removing barricades at roundabouts and on motorways after the demonstrations began to run out of steam. 
   
The protests, which at times spiralled into violence, took a toll on the economy, with businesses counting the cost of supply disruptions, smashed property and a dearth of shoppers and tourists who stayed away from city centres.
 
The number of people who have been killed during the "yellow vest" protests since they began in early November rose to nine on Thursday after a 60-year-old man was hit by a lorry at a demonstration by autoroute A62 near Agen in southwestern France.
 
 
 
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