PARIS – Amid ongoing protests against fuel tax hikes in France, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he would look to pin rates to fluctuating global oil prices in a bid to mitigate the financial effects on consumers.
Macron set out his long-term energy agenda following several weeks of nationwide demonstrations in which hundreds of thousands of people clad in fluorescent clothing – which gave the movement the name “gilet jaunes” (“yellow vests”) – blocked major streets and roads in a show of opposition to the government’s plan to boost taxes on diesel and gasoline.
“We must fix the tax increase to the oil market,” Macron said during a wide-ranging speech. “I hope that within three months we will have a plan to make this tax, which today is a little lacking, more intelligent and we’ll have quarterly revisions to mitigate the effect of global oil prices surges,” he added.
The yellow vest movement, which for two weekends in a row caused major disruption to traffic flow, was branded a major test for Macron by political analysts.
On Tuesday, he acknowledged the discontent fueled by his tax plans but defended it as part of his sweeping plans to move France into greener energy and also took the occasion to condemn those who used the rallies to act violently.
“I do not confuse the rioters and the citizens who wanted to get their message across,” he said.
He also defended taxation in general as a way to provide other services such as a free schooling.
Macron also revealed plans to close 14 of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2035, around a decade longer than was initially scheduled.
He also said he would triple the country’s wind energy output by 2030.