PARIS — Following the violent protests on the Champs-Élysées this weekend, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire met with associations representing the retailers and businesses that were targeted by the “gilets jaunes” movement at the French finance ministry on Monday.
“Nothing justifies the violence, the looting, the threats to other people’s lives, including a huge number of employees working on the Champs-Élysées,” Le Maire said during a press conference upon exiting the meeting at Bercy. “This violence must cease immediately.”
Since the beginning of the movement in November, the reported damage of the “gilets jaunes” protests totals 170 million euros, Le Maire stated. The figure doesn’t include the events on Saturday, which are still being evaluated.
“We’ve received 10,000 damage reports since the first protest,” announced Le Maire. Six-thousand reports concerned damaged vehicles and 4,000 came from businesses.
In conclusion of Monday’s meeting, attended by representatives of 15 business organizations including the French Chamber of Commerce, the Comité des Champs-Élysées, the Comité Faubourg Saint Honoré and BPI France, the French government decided to extend deadlines for payments of social charges, which are now due on April 30, instead of March 31.
“We don’t want there to be any business failures linked to the events surrounding the gilets jaunes protests,” declared Le Maire, adding that government dispatches will be sent out to major French cities in order to help local businesses with their damage reports and claims.
According to AFP, a total of 91 businesses reported damage following the “act 18” of the “gilets jaunes” movement on Saturday, 80 percent of which were severely hit. Protesters set fire to high-end restaurant Fouquet’s and looted stores including Longchamp, Swarovski and Hugo Boss.
Speaking at the Elysée Palace on Monday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that from next weekend, all “gilets jaunes”-related protests will be forbidden in regularly targeted areas including the Champs-Élysées, according to local news channel France Info.