Macron
© Agence France-Presse/Getty
Addressing the French people President Emmanuel Macron declared a 'social and ecomonic state of emergency' following weeks of violence across the country
He also vowed to crack down on tax evasion and state bureaucracy

French president Emmanuel Macron tonight announced a range of dramatic Socialist-style financial concessions to struggling workers so as to end an 'economic and social state of emergency'.

In a TV address lasting 12 minutes, he said a month of rioting and blockades justified a €100 (£90) increase in the minimum wage, taking it to €1498 (£1360).

This will not 'cost anything to the employer', said Mr Macron, and will be accompanied by all taxes and other charges on overtimes being scrapped.

There were also be an end-of-year bonus that employers can pay without being charged by the government, while taxes on those earning less than €2000 (£1800) will also end on January 1.


Mr Macron also ruled out any return of the Solidarity Wealth Tax, saying that he wanted to stop rich entrepreneurs 'moving abroad', so preventing 'job creation'.


Comment: Yet it is a central concern to the ordinary French citizen. They correctly discern they are bearing the burden of repealing the ISF. It clearly has not produced the result Macron has touted.


The extraordinarily generous package of measures represents a massive U-turn by Mr
Macron who originally said he would not yield to rioting as he tried to liberalise the sluggish France economy.



Comment: It may look extraordinary, but it is only returns a fraction of the benefits and services the French used to get for at lower tax rate. Crumbs.


Toulouse yellow vests
© SIPA USA/Press Association
A fire breaks out during a protest in Toulouse
So-called Yellow Vest fuel protestors first took to the streets on November 17, and this led to the president scrapping green charges on petrol and diesel.

'I heard the anger was first of all against the tax, but it's deeper than that, and this anger could be our chance,' said Mr Macron.

'I heard the despair of the forgotten people. There are couples who struggle to make ends meet, brave single mothers or widows who can't afford child care, and poor pensioners who often have to help children and grandchildren, as well as people with disabilities.'

Mr Macron said this 'Forgotten France' has existed for at least 40 years, and that everything had to be done to held them.

Referring to rioting which has seen 4523 arrests across France since November 17, Mr Macron said: 'I will not compromise on violence. When violence unfolds, freedom ends.'

Mr Macron, who served in Francois Hollande's Socialist government before becoming President himself in 2017, particularly accused 'opportunists' including looters of 'taking advantage of sincere anger.'

He added: 'No anger justifies attacking a policeman, degrading shop and public buildings. From now on it is the peace and the Republican order which must reign.'

Cities including Paris and Bordeaux exploded into violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations by the Yellow Vests, who are named after their high visibility jackets.

Guillotine macron protests
© The Daily Mail
Yellow vest protester erect the guillotine in a threat to Macron
Mr Macron remained holed-up in the Elysee Palace as buildings were set on fire, shops were looted, and police were attacked.

Armoured cars, water canon and thousands of rounds of tear gas were in turn used against the trouble makers.

They have been joined by agitators from the Left and Right, as well as criminal groups determined to cause mayhem. Thousands chanted 'Macron Resign' and 'Police Everywhere - Justice Nowhere' as they rampaged throughout the centre of the French capital.
yellow vest Paris macron quit
© European Press Agency
What began as a protest over a proposed rise in fuel tax has spiralled into demonstrations against Macron's pro-business agenda, with calls for him to leave office
Mr Macron also promised a long anticipated debate on immigration and vowed to cut state bureaucracy, which he said had been 'too centralised' for over a decade

The independent Mr Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election with a landslide in May last year, but polls now show his popularity rating as just 18 per cent.

His address comes after the French Foreign Ministry were alerted to fake images of protesters, and potentially false Twitter accounts tweeting support for the Gilets Jaunes - or Yellow Vests.


Comment: Accusations about the very things the gendarmes are doing themselves?




Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said security services have been alerted to the accounts and are investigating. The pattern follows similar trends to those seen around the Brexit vote and US presidential election.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov strongly denied the allegation, saying the riots were a matter of 'the domestic affairs of France', adding: 'We have not interfered and we don't plan to interfere in the domestic affairs of any country including France.'

The French presidential election was also targeted in the same way, but Macron managed to avoid the smears by planting false information which was then shared by the accounts.

It comes after the deputy mayor of Paris, which has been the focal point of the clashes, said the bill for just one weekend of rioting last month was £1.1million.

The yellow vest movement - named after high-visibility vests worn by demonstrators - began online earlier this year, before spreading to the streets in November.

What started as opposition to a proposed fuel tax rise by Macron has since snowballed into a anger about a lack of concern for the poor and working class.

They see Macron as a 'leader for the rich' and are demanding - among other things - a reintroduction of taxes on the rich, a rise in minimum wage, and for Macron to go.

But on Monday Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire categorically ruled out a wealth tax as a route out of the crisis, saying there would be no return to Socialist-style purges on the rich.
paris car burns yellow vest
© Agence France-Press/Getty
The shell of a Smart car burns on the streets of Paris, as the warped sign of store nearby is melted by the flames; despite authorities being on high alert the chaos has continued
'Our country is deeply divided between those who see that globalisation has benefited them and others who can't make ends meet and who see globalisation not as an opportunity but as a threat,' said Mr Le Maire.

However he stressed the Solidarity Tax on Wealth, or the ISF as it is known in France, that his government scrapped in September 2017 would not be reinstated.

It levied a direct wealth tax on all those with assets of more than the equivalent of £1.1million - the current price of a two bedroom flat in Paris.


Comment: So not as much of a win as the citizens think. Every tiny concession Macron has made can be reversed with the stroke of a pen. And the repeal of the ISF, the major grievance of the people, has not been rectified at all.


Ending ISF earned Mr Macron the nickname 'President of the Rich', but Mr Le Maire told RTL radio: 'Does the ISF help reduce poverty, reduce our debts, reduce public spending?

'No, if you want to hunt for money, go knocking on the doors of the digital tech companies.'

starbucks window paris yellow vest protest
© Reuters
A smashed up Starbucks with the words 'pay your taxes' sprayed on the window is pictured in central Paris after violent protests in the city
France will unilaterally tax online giants from 2019 if the EU cannot reach an agreement on the issue, said Mr Le Maire, who added: 'It's time they paid a fair level of tax.'

Mr Le Maire said it was the 'president's role to unify the country,' especially as the country was an 'economic catastrophe' that was costing the economy billions.

Cities including Paris and Bordeaux were wracked with violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations.

Mr Macron remained holed-up in the Elysee Palace as buildings were set on fire, shops were looted, and police were attacked.

Armoured cars, water canon and thousands of rounds of tear gas were used against the Yellow Vests, who are named after the high visibility jackets all motorists carry in France. They have been joined by agitators from the Left and Right, as well as criminal groups determined to cause mayhem.

There were more than 1,000 arrests in Paris alone on Saturday, while the national figure was 1,723.

Thousands chanted 'Macron Resign' and 'Police Everywhere - Justice Nowhere' as they rampaged throughout the centre of the French capital.

The independent Mr Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election with a landslide in 2017, but polls now show his popularity rating as just 18 per cent.