Gilets Jaunes: Macron defends rising fuel prices

President insists that recent increases are due to rising oil prices

President Emmanuel Macron has defended the rising price of fuel at the pumps, which have prompted activists to plan protest blockades and go-slows across France, claiming that they are due mostly to rising oil prices.

As reported, more than three-quarters of French people back plans for protests later this month.

Meanwhile, an online petition calling on the government to do something about the “high rise in the price of petrol” since January 1 now has more than 750,000 signatures.

President Macron insisted he 'understood' people's concerns, but said he preferred "fuel taxation to labour taxation", in an interview for the Ebra group of newspapers.

"The same people who are complaining about the rise in fuel prices are also demanding that we fight air pollution because their children are suffering from diseases," he said.

"The increase in the price at the pump that we see today is 70% linked to the increase in oil prices," he added.

"I respect [people's concerns] and I don't say as in the past: "Suffer in silence, it will get better.

"I speak to the French with my character, with my way of doing things. When they are worried, I bear part of the responsibility: I don't explain well enough. But I was elected on a clear, unambiguous mandate and I will have to be accountable for a long time," he said.

Critics argued, however, that a tax on fuel is an indirect tax on labour. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of centre-right Debout La France, called on the French to join the protests on November 17. He said in an interview on RTL on Monday: "Enough is enough. The government is lying to the French, making them believe that it is for ecology, or that it is necessary.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan appeals to the French: "If our fellow citizens do not react, it will be endless. We cannot accept so much injustice.

"I have been fighting this fight of motorists for years, especially against the racketeering of motorway tolls.

At some point, the French have to take charge. It was not me who launched the movement, it was citizens all over France."

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