French farmers block Paris highways with tractors in tax revolt

French farmers are blocking highways around Paris in protest of punitive taxes and plans to reform European agricultural subsidies. The Paris tractor blockade comes only weeks after violent protests in Brittany led to the postponement of the so called "ecotax" by six months. The ecotax would be levied on vehicles carrying more than 3.5 tonnes.

In echoes of America's Tea Party protests, famers brandished signs across their tractors such as "Fed up with taxes - and you?"

From trade unionists to France's top earners, the tax tolerance of the French people seems to be nearing breaking point.

Union representative, Christophe Lerebour told ReutersTV:

We are here to show our government that we won't accept these policies anymore which are decimating an entire sector.

The protests come on the same day as the French private sector is shown to be shrinking again, with Markit's composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) contracting for the first time in three months.

The protests are a further blow to the beleaguered socialist President, Francois Hollande, who has seen his poll ratings collapse, with an approval rating of only 20 per cent. The French economy has been performing poorly, groaning under the weight of high taxation and extravagant government spending.

Business leaders across Europe have become increasingly concerned with the French economic model, with CQS founder Michael Hintze telling Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit:

The real issue will not be the periphery. The real problem would go back to France.

Core Europe is in sensible shape, especially Germany, but what does worry me a little bit is what happens in France, because I think that's one that could be a major pothole in 2014.