FRENCH president Emmanuel Macron yesterday announced tax cuts for middle-class workers in an attempt to bring to an end the country’s yellow vest protests.
Mr Macron spoke from the Élysée Palace after three months of national debate aimed at addressing protesters’ concerns about high taxes, unemployment and stagnant wages.
As well as the tax cuts, he promised a more representative parliament and a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
He also unveiled measures to boost pensions and help single parents, and relaxed rules on referendums, making it easier for people to find an outlet for grievances instead of the protests that have crippled the country for 23 weeks.
But Mr Macron warned of hard choices. ‘I don’t believe in permanent referendums, because referendums don’t allow for difficult decisions at the time when they must be made,’ he said.
He warned that illegal immigration was weighing on France and Europe, saying he favoured a ‘strong’ Europe that protected its borders but, at the same time, was able to take in asylum-seekers coming from countries where their lives were at risk.
‘We need borders to be respected, we need rules,’ he said.
Critics are likely to dismiss his proposals as too little, too late. They see the former investment banker as leading a government that favours the rich.
But Mr Macron refused to hit the well-off with a wealth tax, saying he was aiming to keep investments in France.