Great debate: France ‘must implement bold tax cuts’ declares prime minister

The French government must implement bold tax cuts, the prime minister said on Monday, after a mass public consultation called in the wake of "yellow vest" protests that shook President Emmanuel Macron.

Great debate: France 'must implement bold tax cuts' declares prime minister

Giving the first conclusions of a “Great National Debate” which was launched in January in response to the protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said French citizens had expressed “an enormous exasperation” over the heavy tax burden.

“The debates show us very clearly which way to go. We need to lower taxes, and lower them more quickly,” he told an audience in Paris.


Taxes have been a major source of 'yellow vest' anger. Photo: AFP

The “yellow vest” protests, so called for the fluorescent vests worn by demonstrators, began in mid-November initially over fuel taxes before morphing into a nation-wide revolt against Macron.

The 41-year-old centrist came to power in May 2017 promising pro-business reforms and he has focused his tax cuts so far on companies and high-earners in a bid to increase investment and lower unemployment.

The president is expected to announce new policies in a major speech planned in the middle of the month.

The “Great National Debate” involved 10,000 meetings in community halls around the country, around two million online contributions and saw Macron join local events for nearly 100 hours in total.

As well as lower taxes, Philippe said that several other themes which had emerged during the consultation, which was designed to draw the anger out of the “yellow vest” protest movement.

Citizens wanted a more direct say in the running of the country – so-called “participatory democracy” – and action to combat climate change.

“We have reached a point where hesitating would be worse than an error, it would be an offence,” Philippe added. “The need for change is so radical that any conservatism, any feebleness would be unforgiveable in my view.”

France has the highest taxation rate in the developed world, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Member comments

  1. Climate change policies are THE problem and what initially caused it the yellow vest protest. France has nuclear power and should keep it. This is clean cheap energy. Much much cheaper than bat chomping inefficient ugly wind turbines. Stop the high taxes for fuel, living, transport and all should be well for macron.

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What happened to the rioters who trashed the Arc de Triomphe during yellow vest violence?

A court in France has finally handed out sentences to some of those involved in the vandalism and theft at the Arc de Triomphe in December 2018 - when 'yellow vest' violence in Paris shocked the world.

What happened to the rioters who trashed the Arc de Triomphe during yellow vest violence?
'Yellow vest' protesters clash with police by the Arc de Triomphe on December 1st 2018 in Paris. Photo: Abdulmonam EASSA / AFP

The French court on Thursday sentenced eight people to suspended jail terms and community service for taking part in one of the most violent episodes of the anti-government ‘yellow vest’ protests that rocked France two years ago.

A total of nine stood trial this week for the incident, but one of them, a former soldier, was cleared for lack of evidence, presiding judge Sonia Lumbroso said at the verdict.

The court ruled the suspects were neither the instigators nor the main culprits of the vandalism and looting around the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris, when scenes of destruction and fierce clashes with police made global headlines.

Most of them had no criminal records.

They were sentenced to 70 hours of community service for entering the monument, but those also found guilty of stealing items such as postcards, Arc de Triomphe models or miniature Eiffel Towers from the gift shop, were fined €100 for theft.

A ‘yellow vest’ protester arrives at the courthouse in Paris to attend the trial of ten people on charge of destruction and theft around the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. Photo: Thomas COEX / AFP

One of the group, a man who was caught on camera trying to break down a door with a fire extinguisher, was handed the most severe sentence, a suspended prison term of eight months.

Dozens of cars were set on fire and businesses trashed all along the celebrated Champs-Elysées avenue on December 1st, 2018, the third Saturday of mass demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

READ ALSO: Macron risks losing support from left against Le Pen in French presidential election

He was accused of ignoring the plight of struggling French families and after months of protests he abandoned a planned fuel tax hike and raised spending on the lowest earners.

The protesters had already skirmished with security forces at earlier rallies, but police were unprepared for the rioting that engulfed the capital just a few weeks before Christmas.

Despite firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets, the officers were forced to abandon their positions around the Arc de Triomphe, which honours France’s war dead.

Protesters snuffed out the eternal flame over the tomb of an unknown World War I soldier and spray-painted the stone walls with graffiti including “the yellow vests will triumph”.

Others forced their way inside the arch, ransacking the gift shop and damaging scores of artworks, causing damage that cost €1.2 million to repair.

READ ALSO: Is France’s ‘yellow vest’ movement really on its way back?