News / Economy

French PM Suspends ‘Ecotax’ on Trucks After Protests

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (front) and Agriculture, Food Processing Industry and Forests Minister Stephane Le Foll arrive to deliver a statement at the Hotel Matignon offices in Paris, Oct. 29, 2013.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (front) and Agriculture, Food Processing Industry and Forests Minister Stephane Le Foll arrive to deliver a statement at the Hotel Matignon offices in Paris, Oct. 29, 2013.
Reuters
France's Socialist government made its second climbdown on tax policy in a week on Tuesday amid rising protests against the fiscal burden and opinion polls showing its approval rating at an all-time low.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced the suspension of a planned environmental tax on trucks after protests in the western Brittany region, but denied his administration was on the run over what his finance minister has called “tax saturation.”

Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Brittany last weekend, protesting against the planned “ecotax” on heavy goods vehicles which was set to bring in about 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion) per year to help finance mostly rail projects.

“I have decided to suspend the implementation of the ecotax to give us the time we need for a national and regional dialog,” Ayrault said after meeting lawmakers, trade unionists, farm leaders and employers from the western region, hit by a series of food industry plant closures.

“Suspension does not mean abolition,” he added, noting that the tax, due to go into force on Jan. 1 and already postponed several times, had been adopted by the previous conservative government.

President Francois Hollande's government, struggling to bring down the public deficit without killing a fragile economic recovery ahead of municipal and European elections next year, backtracked last weekend on plans to increase tax on some savings products.

Earlier this month, ministers scrapped a planned new corporate tax harshly criticized by business leaders and said they would temporarily increase existing company taxes instead.

At 46.0 percent of GDP, the French tax burden is already one of the heaviest in the world. It is set to rise marginally to 46.1 percent next year.

Although the government has shifted the burden towards spending cuts rather than tax hikes in the 2014 budget, now going through parliament, business leaders and voters have expressed mounting discontent.

Hollande has become the most unpopular French president on record, an opinion poll showed on Monday, due to anger over tax rises, unemployment and immigration.

Some 26 percent of voters view taxes as a major issue, 17 percentage points more than in a previous poll a year ago.

“We need to listen to the country,” Trade Minister Nicole Bricq told Reuters in an interview. “These are not backward steps but a sidestep, the government is not in an ivory tower.”

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7718
JPY
USD
107.32
GBP
USD
0.6125
CAD
USD
1.0974
INR
USD
60.919

Rates may not be current.