Yellow vest leaders rage at meeting cancellation
A group of yellow vest protesters invited by French Senator Catherine Fournier to discuss their grievances yesterday (Tuesday) had the talks cancelled with 20 minutes’ notice.
They had planned to discuss changes to Paris’ major airports (Aéroports de Paris) under proposed legislation.
The five-man delegation included Eric Drouet, who urged yellow vest activists to storm the Élysée presidential palace.
The talks were cancelled, prompting representatives of the movement to call for fresh protests outside the Senate in Paris.
“The Senate just cancelled our meeting at the last minute without giving a reason. We call for a mass rally outside the Senate at 2:30pm,” the Yellow Vest Special Operations posted on Facebook.
Senate President Gérard Larcher said the meeting was axed because of a “risk to public order”.
The yellow vest chiefs said they thought Drouet’s presence had caused the cancellation.
“It would appear that Eric Drouet’s presence was an embarrassment… Yet Eric Drouet is just an angry citizen, he’s a yellow vest member and I don’t see why the meeting was cancelled at the last moment,” said Philippe de Veulle, one of the representatives.
Drouet said he thought the senators were pressured into withdrawing the invitation.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office has condemned the meeting with Drouet and his associates.
“I don’t find this invitation responsible. It’s not my concept of politics,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told broadcaster France Info.
“Are they just looking for attention? Why Eric Drouet? I won’t hide my surprise, my shock at learning that the Senate asked yellow vest Eric Drouet for his opinion on the Aéroports de Paris. Is he a specialist on the issue? Is he a member of the Aéroports de Paris? An employee of the Aéroports de Paris?” Le Maire asked.
Yellow vest activists have been outspoken in its opposition to the privatisation of France’s airports.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said cutting taxes must be a priority in his attempt to address yellow vest grievances.
He said: “The debate clearly shows us in which direction we need to go: we need to lower taxes and lower them faster.”
The Macron administration’s “great debate” involved 10,000 meetings across France and about 2 million online contributions.
In 2017, France had the highest tax rate among developed countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The organisation said French taxes were the equivalent of 46.2 per cent of GDP, with Denmark second at 46 per cent and Sweden third with 44 per cent.
France also had the highest level of social spending, with 31.2 per cent of GDP last year, followed by Belgium at 28.9 per cent and Finland at 28.7 per cent. The UK figure was a limited 20.6 per cent.
Yellow vest protests started on November 17, 2018. Picture credit: Wikimedia