TotalEnergies, EDF, Engie and others are singled out by the French state.
And they will be called to order next week.
The government intends to summon energy suppliers on Wednesday, accused of “not playing the game enough” by inflating the prices offered to SMEs, after an initial agreement in Brussels to reduce bills in the face of soaring inflation.
"I think that today (energy suppliers) do not sufficiently play the game with their customers, especially SMEs," said Bruno Le Maire on Friday.
This is why "we will bring together, with Agnès Pannier-Runacher next Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., all the energy companies to ask them to sign a code of conduct", continued the minister on Europe 1.
Towards “reasonable” prices
The purpose of the invitation to Bercy: to guarantee “reasonable prices”, in particular to SMEs, thanks to additional commitments from suppliers.
The ministry wishes to create "better quality" and "more protective" conditions for "communities and businesses" by acting "at the national level" in addition to the negotiations in progress at the European level, explained the Minister for the Energy Transition in Brussels. .
In a "charter", the companies will undertake to "provide all French SMEs with reasonable electricity and energy tariffs, within a reasonable timeframe, with reasonable conditions" with in particular "the possibility of revision" if the prices are falling, according to Bruno Le Maire.
He also insisted on “the possibility for the company to examine the contract without them having the knife under the throat”.
The Minister Delegate for SMEs, Olivia Grégoire, traveling to Lyon on Friday, said she wanted to ask energy suppliers during the meeting to give VSEs-SMEs a deadline so that they can pay bills within "three to next six months”.
These are “devices that we had put in place during the health crisis” and which can again be put in place, she underlined.
In Brussels, the energy ministers agreed on Friday on measures consisting in recovering part of the “superprofits” of energy producers to redistribute them to the consumer, and in reducing the demand for electricity at peak times.
" It's not acceptable "
While the rise in prices triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine slowed in France in September to 5.6%, inflation remains at a high level.
This decline is also due to the “slowdown” in the rise in energy prices, which are following in the footsteps of oil prices, hampered by fears of recession, explains in a press release the National Institute of Statistics Insee.
But economists see it as a sham effect with the planned drop in the rebate on fuel prices.
The European employers' organization BusinessEurope had warned on Thursday that the high prices of gas and electricity in Europe posed an "imminent risk" of "production losses" and "shutdowns of thousands of European companies".
The French agri-food industry has notably warned of the risks of production stoppages in the absence of measures against soaring prices.
In question: some energy suppliers offer SMEs "prices of around 600 or 700 euros per megawatt hour, where energy suppliers anticipate a price of 200 to 300 euros", accused Bruno Le Maire on Friday. .
"This is not acceptable," he blasted.
Households and the smallest businesses eligible for regulated tariffs are covered by the “tariff shield”, extended until 2023 and limiting the increase in electricity and gas tariffs to 15%.
"If you find yourself in the situation where you have to sign a new energy contract" and that it "presents an incomprehensible increase", "I repeat, do not sign!" Hammered Olivia Grégoire.
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