After 22 weekends of protest, the gilets jaunes show no signs of slowing down. The movement has rocked the French government. The government has made major concessions but has also launched a brutal crackdown. After weeks of repression, police violence and mainstream-media smears, how have these protests lasted so long? spiked spoke to Édouard Husson, dean of the Institut Franco-Allemand at the Université de Cergy-Pontoise, to find out more.
spiked: What is driving the gilets jaunes in your view?
Édouard Husson: The immediate cause was the government's hike in fuel taxes, but there are much deeper roots. It is really the result of decades of a totally counterproductive economic policy. In 1992, France had a referendum on the Maastricht treaty, which led to the creation of the Euro. I voted against it. I would like to have been proven wrong but I was extremely sceptical of the benefits for France. Every country has its own economic model and you need to have a flexible currency in a changing world. You are left with other mechanisms of flexibility but no government since the 1990s has had the courage to introduce either more flexibility into the labour market or more trade protections, for instance towards China. They haven't even asked for that within the EU.