Philippe insisted Wednesday that a carbon tax that has provoked weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations would come into effect in January.
The prime minister added that he was also ready to meet a “delegation representing” the Yellow Vest (Gilet Jaune) protesters, many of whom are set to rally around the country on 1st of December for the third Saturday in a row.
Plans to hike carbon taxes by 6.5 euro cents per litre for diesel fuel and 2.9 cents for gasoline have sparked 10 days of sometimes-violent protests around the country over the cost of living and the perception of elitism in the government.
Macron vowed to press ahead with the tax on Tuesday, which he said is needed to help fight pollution, but also proposed to monitor fluctuations in oil prices.
He also pledged a three-month public consultation on how France could transition to a low-carbon economy without penalising low-income families.
But the gestures were not enough for a group of spokespersons of the bourgeoning movement.
'French people are not convinced'
“French people are not convinced one bit” by Macron’s announcements, said Yellow Vest spokesperson Eric Drouet after evening talks with Environment Minister François de Rugy
“Just like last Saturday, there will be a gathering on the Champs-Elysées,” he added. “The wish of all Yellow Vests is to continue this way, gathering every Saturday on the Champs-Elysées.”
Another spokesperson, Priscilla Ludosky, said she has asked for a new meeting with “the government spokesperson or prime minister”.
Drouet and Ludosky are part of a delegation of eight spokespersons created on Monday to bring the protesters’ grievances to authorities, though some Yellow Vests complained that the delegation was “self-proclaimed”.
Philippe echoed Macron’s pledges on Wednesday, and elaborated on their implementation.
“We chose this path and we will hold to it,” Philippe said.
“We are on a trajectory where taxes will increase every January, and we will keep to this objective. But, through the course of the year, we will hold quarterly reviews of the evolution of costs,” he said.
“If the evolution is high, we will revert to prices at the beginning of the year.”
Philippe also said the door was open to protesters wishing to join consultations about the government’s environmental strategy.
“If a delegation representing the Yellow Vests wish to take part, I will receive them,” Philippe said.
“I will listen to them and dialogue, trying to take into account what they are saying, because they have many legitimate concerns.”
A public opinion poll conducted following Macron’s announcements and published Wednesday showed two thirds of respondents backing the Yellow Vest protests, and nearly 80 percent opposed the planned tax hike in January.