On Sunday, November 24, 2013, protester and horses along with shop keepers, teachers and farmers took to the streets of Paris to complain about President François Hollande's plan to treble taxes on equestrian centers, saying that the tax increases would result in thousands of horses being doomed to slaughter.
Protesters and horses took to the streets of Paris to complain about a plan to treble taxes on equestrian centers, saying that the tax increases would result in thousands of horses being doomed to slaughter.
© 2013 by Daniel Vaulot
Thousands of disgruntled horse and pony riders rode through the French capital to complain about tax increases they say will put many of them out of business and send '80,000 animals to the abattoir.'
The horses and riders blocked roads from the symbolic Paris squares, Place d'Italie, Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation, in protest at government plans to almost treble VAT (taxes) on equestrian centers.
It was the latest manifestation of the growing revolt over President François Hollande's tax reforms, many of them aimed at reducing the country's public deficit to meet European Union demands.
The increase in taxes on equestrian centers from 7% to 20% has been imposed on France by an European commission directive that has the backing of the European court of justice. French equestrian associations want the directive renegotiated.
Serge Lecomte, the president of the Fédération Française d'Équitation, told journalists: "The situation is exceptional. The whole sector is now in danger."
Lecomte said the VAT increase would lead to the closure of 2,000 horse centres out of 7,000 with a loss of 6,000 jobs out of 40,000, in the next 18 months. "It will send 80,000 horses to the abattoir," he said.
France has about 700,000 horse-riding instructors and 2.3 million people who ride, 82% of them women. It is the third most popular sport in France.
The government has promised subsidies to prevent riding schools from going under, but Lecomte said this was not a solution.