French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday indefinitely suspended the introduction of a green tax on trucks following riots at the weekend in the Brittany region.
The tax, which was devised in 2009 but was only due to come into effect in January, needed to be “corrected,” Mr. Ayrault said, justifying the delay.
The move comes three days after a protest by hundreds of food producers, artisans and distributors in the western Brittany region ended in the worst riots in the area in years.
One person was seriously injured in clashes between police and a group of around 1,000 demonstrators, who blocked a national road with convoys of vehicles and tonnes of produce on Saturday in protest over the tax.
Bretons say the levy will squeeze the already wafer-thin margins of the region’s struggling chicken, pork and other food producers.
The protests were seen as the expression of growing frustration nation-wide with the escalating tax burden on businesses and households.
Taxes have risen 70 billion euros (96 billion dollars) in the past three years, as France battles to shrink its budget deficit.
The truck tax, which is to apply to all vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes that use French roads, aims to raise 1 billion euros a year towards the development of rail and river transportation.
Mr. Ayrault denied that the government had caved in to the protesters.
“To be courageous is not to be obstinate; it’s to listen and understand,” he said after a meeting with Breton lawmakers and several Cabinet Ministers.