The French Government is preparing to suspend fuel tax increases following weeks of protests that turned violent, according to a government source.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was due to announce the suspension on Tuesday, the source added, in what would mark President Emmanuel Macron’s first significant U-turn on a major policy since taking power in 2017.
The so-called “yellow vests” protests, which started on November 17, focused on denouncing a squeeze on household spending brought about by Mr Macron’s taxes on diesel, which he says are necessary to combat climate change and protect the environment.
However, they have since evolved into a bigger, general anti-Macron uprising, with many criticising the President for pursuing policies that they claim favour the wealthiest members of French society.
Protests in Paris on Saturday turned particularly violent, with the Arc de Triomphe defaced and avenues off the capital’s Champs Elysees suffering damage.
It’s unlikely Mr Philippe’s announcement will put an end to the road blockades and demonstrations, with more possible protests this weekend in Paris.
Protesters continue to block several fuel depots and many insisted their fight was not over.
“It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” said Benjamin Cauchy, one of the protest leaders.
Prominent Socialist figure Segolene Royal, a former candidate for President, lauded Mr Philippe’s decision but said it came too late.
“This decision should have been taken from the start, as soon as the conflict emerged,” she said. “The more you let a conflict fester, the more you eventually have to concede.”
After a third consecutive weekend of clashes in Paris led by protesters wearing distinctive yellow traffic vests, Mr Philippe held crisis talks with representatives of major political parties on Monday.
He also met with Mr Macron and other ministers in order to find a quick solution to the crisis.
More than 100 people were injured in the French capital and 412 arrested over the weekend during France’s worst urban riot in years, with dozens of cars torched.
Since the movement began on November 17, three people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests.
The demonstrations have been given the “yellow vest” tag due to the fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France.
The protests are estimated to have cost the economy millions.