France on verge of fuel revolution?
Several dozen of Total gasoline stations had run dry as a more than two-week long protest over fuel tax hikes in France began to impact fuel reserves and distribution.
A Total spokesman said "yellow vest" protesters were obstructing access to 11 fuel depots. He added that as a result of the unrest, some 75 fuel stations out of the company’s 2200-strong network across the country were empty because they could not receive supplies, Reuters reported.
Protesters have been blocking roads across France, impeding access to fuel depots, shopping malls and some airports. On Saturday, rioters transformed upscale Paris neighbourhoods into battle zones.
The "yellow vests" protests against the fuel prices increase and newly introduced tax have been held in France since November 17. They are named after the French obligation to wear a yellow light-reflective vest while driving, and organized through social media.
The demonstrations have grown into violent clashes with police and riots, which have left 3 people dead and hundreds injured, including police officers. In Paris, the first December weekend was marked with clashes between 8000 protesters and 5000 police officers. Tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons were deployed against rioters; one died and at least 133 were injured, including 23 police officers. A total of 412 people were detained.
In late 2017, the French government approved a decision to raise the direct tax on diesel fuel, which is the most popular type of fuel in the country. The diesel prices in France have risen by around 23% since the beginning of the year, while gasoline prices have gone up by 15%. Prices are set to increase further in January.
Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that it is a rather serious phenomenon for France, especially against the background of the migration crisis and unstable economic situation in the country. "Of course, joining the demonstrations by workers in entire industries is serious enough, but it’s premature to say that it will lead to the resignation of the government or the impeachment of French President Emmanuel Macron. At the same time, it should be noted that it negatively affects the lives of the republic's citizens as a whole," he said.
Despite the scale of the protests, the European Union's attention is now focused on much more significant phenomena, such as Brexit in the UK and the migration crisis in Germany. "Yellow vests protests" are more of France’s internal affairs. Although, of course, Europe is very small, and therefore any destructive processes in a particular country is carefully studied and analyzed by Brussels," the director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting pointed out.