Stone sector’s organizations claim victory for protests which started with the Yellow-Vests-Movement
The protests of French Yellow-Vests-Movement are good news for the country’s stone branch: tax increases for diesel fuel, which would have affected stone producers, has been put on hold until the end of 2019. It would have meant bringing small and midsized enterprises in the stone branch to their knees according to the trade organizations.
The government will be holding talks in the next months. The measures are to be „kept on hold until all sides have been heard and all positions have been debated“, according to the daily Le Moniteur.
Starting around October 2018 protest movements by concerned citizens donning yellow traffic vests had begun. The protesters took to the streets to counter government plans revolving around its energy transition. Repercussions followed swiftly calling for the government to step down.
One of Emmanuel Macron’s first planned changes was to cut back tax breaks for diesel fuel in the farming sector. The French term is Gazole Non Routier (GNR), (non-motorway fuel.
GNR is used mainly in farming but to a great extent also by the stone branch in the quarries. That is the reason behind the term „non routier“. It does not serve to transport goods by motorway.
The stone branch quickly picked up the subject. Trade Organization Unicem (Union nationale des industries de carrières et matériaux de construction) called Macron’s move „brutal and sudden“ and calculated that the tax on 100 liters of farming diesel would triple from 18.82 € to 64.76 €.
Trade Organization SNROC (Syndicat National des Roches Ornementales et de Construction), wrote letters of protest addressed at ministers and at the Prime Minster purporting that the move would entail the end of the stone branch for some 850 producers. Their production costs would increase „by +4% to +8% depending on type of stone“.
On the other hand, countries exporting their stone products to France would profit of the move, the exact opposite of the desired effect: some of these imports „are shipped more than 18,000 km, resulting in an 8 x higher CO2 emission compared to local products“ according to SNROC.
As far back as the early days of December, the government began to change course. The Prime Minister announced that the new rules would not come into effect until the end of 2019 at the earliest.
The about-turn was facetiously commented in the Moniteur: „it is to be hoped, that the government will consult professionals and trade organizations before deciding measures with great impact in future”.
Note that the citizens of France traditionally feel drawn to the opposition no matter what government is in power.
Trade Magazine Pierre Actual took up the subject in its December edition lead article, praising the Organization and expounding the importance of the solidarity for the branch.
Le Moniteur (French)
Pierre Actual (French)
(04.02.2019, USA: 02.04.2019)