Blog: Dave LeggettFrench plan to tax polluters

Dave Leggett | 14 July 2004

I've some sympathy for the French. Yes, really. I know they are past-masters at keeping international competition out, but they may be taking some undeserved flak over plans to tax large cars (and yes, SUVs) in urban areas. The French government plans to tax large cars and SUVs to encourage the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Under the plan, consumers who buy passenger vehicles with big engines will get hit with a tax of up to 3,500 euros. I don't know the sliding scale, but if it tops out at that level, is that so reprehensible? Personally, I have no quarrel with people driving big SUVs and luxo-barges, so long as the external costs are dealt with - polluter pays. And these guys have been getting a pretty easy ride generally I think.

But of course, people immediately start to look at who's most affected and the trade implications. Is this a cunning French ploy to keep imports out? Of course German luxury brands look to be well and truly in the firing line, but I think that may be a bit unfair. It's pretty inevitable that they will be affected if you're looking at such a tax, or restrictions on big-engined vehicle use in urban areas. The German Chancellor has waded into the fray very early and sounds pretty aggressive. Will the Maginot Line hold this time?

Blimey, I hadn't even realised that it's the Entente Cordiale centenary this year, but I've just been informed that UK troops were invited to join the Bastille Day parade in Paris today for the first time ever, in honour of that simple milestone. Maybe, after all, we're getting closer to our garlic-loving neighbours just across that little sliver of water. And Tony Blair does speak French (reasonably) fluently. Croissant for breakfast tomorrow I think. Cognac before turning in tonight.

Happy Bastille Day!

Time for some tunes. Charles Aznavour or Johnny Halliday? No, let's go punk. Now, where is that Plastic Bertrand record that I remember so well from my youth? 'Ca plane pour moi..' (Oh no - he's Belgian!).


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