Taxes

French Government Angers Drivers With Diesel Tax Scheme

Are they pushing for a replay of the storming of the Bastille?

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The majority of vehicles on the roads in Europe's second-largest economy do not use petrol. After decades of enjoying significant price advantages at the pumps, an EU push to level rates would hit hauliers and motorists hard, Colin Randall, Foreign Correspondent, reports

As residents of the UAE quickly learn or are reminded when travelling to Europe, the driver pulling into a petrol station expects to have to dig deep into the pocket.

There is a morsel of consolation if the vehicle happens to be diesel-fuelled and the forecourt is in one of the many countries where petrol is far more costly.

In France, the average saving on lead-free petrol is a useful 20 centimes (94 fils) a litre. But it is a sweetener that may be about to turn sour.

More than 80 per cent of the fuel used on French roads is diesel and this is the fuel that powers 73 per cent of the new cars registered last year.

Removing or even substantially reducing the price advantage may sound like electoral suicide for a left-wing president and government already struggling for popular approval.

But in a move that would fire up costs for hauliers as well as private road-users, François Hollande's administration is under pressure—from its own financial watchdog as well as the European Union—to equalise petrol and diesel prices.