Fishermen across western and southern Europe are threatening an open-ended strike from Wednesday in protest at rising fuel costs. Several ports in France have remained blocked for more than a week despite a government aid deal, and fishermen in the Spanish region of Catalonia began strike action yesterday.
Their colleagues across Spain, Portugal and Italy plan to join them tomorrow. The industry has seen marine diesel prices almost double in six months. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he’ll look for a cap in fuel sales tax across the EU. He told a French radio station this morning: “I will ask our European partners: if the price of oil continues to rise, shouldn’t we suspend the VAT tax part of oil prices?” For that to happen, all 27 EU members would need to agree.
However the European Commission has responded negatively to Sarkozy’s proposal, saying modifying tax levels on oil products to fight inflation would be sending a bad message to oil producing countries.
The French haulage industry has joined the fishermens’ protest, leading to some fuel depot blockades and fears of petrol shortages.