French President Emmanuel Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners on Monday night, offering concessions after weeks of often violent protests that have challenged his authority and rocked the French state.
The pledges made in a televised address to the nation were his first public comments since protests against his presidency devolved into rioting in Paris and other French cities.
The French leader reiterated earlier promises to raise the minimum wage and pledged to abolish taxes on overtime pay starting January 1, several months before schedule. He also said a tax hike that pensioners faced would be scrapped.
All of the measures offered had been demanded by the yellow-vested protesters who have led four weeks of increasingly radicalised demonstrations against Mr Macron’s presidency, which has been seen as favouring the rich.
Mr Macron also promised “all means” will be used to restore calm after the disruptive protests that have deeply shaken the nation.
Mr Macron acknowledged "anger and indignation" among members of the public over the cost of living, but also said "no indulgence" would be given to people behind the protest violence.
He said “no anger justifies” attacking police or looting stores, saying both threaten France’s cherished liberty.
Mr Macron, who was elected last year, also acknowledged that he is partially responsible for the anger that has fuelled weeks of protests in France.
He said: “We probably have not been able for a year-and-a-half to bring quick enough and strong enough responses.”
Mr Macron also acknowledged he may have given an impression “not to care” about the concerns of ordinary citizens and “might have hurt” some people with his comments.
The president is perceived by many in France as arrogant, after incidents that have included telling an unemployed man he could find a job if he "crosses the street", advising a retiree not to complain and demanding that child call him by his full name and not the nickname Manu.
Mr Macron told his prime-time audience that “we want a France where one can live in dignity through one’s work and on this we have gone too slowly”.
“I ask the government and parliament to do what is necessary.”
But he also said he would stick to his reform agenda and refused to reinstate a wealth tax.
“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” Macron said.