Prices at the pump continue to soar, liters of diesel and gasoline hit new records last week.
Faced with this rise in prices, the government finds itself under pressure, as presidential candidates demand a reduction in fuel taxes.
After having mentioned several avenues, the government should favor the establishment of a “fuel check”.
Prices at the pump continue to soar.
Last week, fuels sold in France increased by another 2 cents.
The liter of diesel reached a historic level (at 1.5583 euros per liter on average) while gasoline posted its highest price for nearly ten years (1.6567 euros per liter unleaded 95).
Summits that exceed those reached in the fall of 2018, during the “yellow vests” crisis.
Six months before the presidential election, the executive is looking for a way to stop this surge, which is undermining the purchasing power of the French.
The executive under pressure from the opposition
During a trip to Seine-Saint-Denis, last Thursday, Emmanuel Macron tried to demine. “There will be a short-term action to support households. The government is working on it and will have to complete its response in the coming days depending on developments so as not to leave anyone in disarray, ”said the Head of State. In a context of pre-election campaign, the subject is explosive. Especially since the executive is also facing an energy crisis, linked to the rise in electricity and gas prices. At the end of September, the government was forced to react by announcing the blocking of regulated gas prices and a new energy check.
This time again, the executive found itself under pressure from presidential candidates, on the right and on the left, who seized on the price hike to advance their proposals.
Marine Le Pen (RN), Anne Hidalgo (PS) or Arnaud Montebourg (ex-PS) thus defended a reduction in VAT, while the ecologist Yannick Jadot and the Communist Fabien Roussel pleaded for a “floating” tax system, which adapts according to crude oil prices.
The fuel check, a privileged avenue
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal had indicated last week that several avenues were being studied to reduce the bill for the French, including lower taxes or specific aid. But the tax solution now seems ruled out. "The option of lowering taxes is not economically reasonable and environmentally unwise", pleaded the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire on Monday on Europe 1, telling him to prefer the fuel check.
In Hauts-de-France, the region of presidential candidate Xavier Bertrand, a similar device has existed since 2016, focused on low-income households who use their vehicles a lot to work. Can we imagine such a measure extended to the whole country? "We prefer the principle of a fuel check, on the model of the energy check, because it allows to target the households that need it most quickly," confirms a government source.
But setting up this aid could take precious time.
“We don't have a database like the energy check [which will be paid to 5.8 million households in December].
We must therefore distinguish between those who fill up with gasoline for their recreational SUV and those who do so for their work.
This targeting work still needs to be done.
This will be done in the days or weeks to come, ”adds this source.
The fear of a social protest
Time is running out for the executive, as the issue of purchasing power becomes one of the major themes of the campaign.
The government also wishes to avoid any beginning of social protest, when a few roundabouts were again occupied in several departments this Saturday.
“We are of course vigilant. But the first crisis of the "yellow vests" was linked to political decisions on the increase of an ecological tax. This time, the increase is independent of the political decision and is also found in all European countries ”, assures Jean-Charles Colas-Roy, LREM deputy from Isère and referent for the ecological transition. “Let us avoid making populism and demagoguery on the back of a crisis that is difficult to curb. We need short-term social measures, but we also continue to invest in the conversion of the vehicle fleet in the long term, which automatically makes it possible to be less dependent on fluctuating fuel prices, ”he adds. .
Social and political protest is perhaps only in its infancy.
This Monday, the PCF candidate Fabien Roussel called on the French to mobilize in front of the prefectures, and in Paris during a demonstration on November 21 to defend their purchasing power.
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Presidential election 2022