Since the first incarnation of the EU an The Common Market, FRANCE has always been considered one of the bastions of European stability and a poster state for financial and political integration among European Union countries. But former Goldman Sachs banker Emmanuel Macron has thrown both France’s position as Germany’s chief sidekick and the dream of European integration into a federal suprstate called errrrmmm Germany, into doubt as he scrambles to quell a growing revolt against his leadership that threatens to continue into 2019.
The so-called “yellow vest” movement has spawned violent protests across the country since November, forcing French authorities to deploy tens of thousands police officers to quash weekly demonstrations. The largely leaderless, grassroots citizens’ movement emerged in the face of a proposed fuel tax that would have pushed up the price of petrol, hitting many people in rural and suburban areas who depend of cars and have very little access to public transport. But the “yellow vests” have since been joined by thousands more demonstrators concerned about the growing costs of living as French people struggle to make ends meet while Mr Macron, the country’s president, continues to implement business-friendly reforms to the economy.
In a televised address to the nation, Macron promised a £13.4 billion package of concessions including a a rise in the minimum wage in a bid to stave off the crisis that could bring down his government. Unfortunately the movement has transformed into an anti-government rebellion intent on displaying discontent in Mr Macron’s leadership.
This has left European Union with a dilemma as plans increase the minimum wage meant the budget would run at a 3.2 percent deficit, instead of the 2.8 percent originally forecast. Brussels has recently threatened economic sanctions on Italy for exceeding deficit limits by a smaller amount.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, have promised to carefully watch developments in the French budget as politicians attempt to head off another confrontation with Italy’s nationalist government.
The Italian prime minister “explicitly mentioned the revolt of the yellow jackets” in his most recent deficit talks with the EU.
The movement also threatens to cause waves during the 2019 European Parliament elections after the French Communist Party announced it plans to feature “yellow jackets” on its list of candidates, while nationalist parties across Europe threaten to form a bloc that will dominate the European Parliament.