Baptiste Morin // Photo credit: Romain Doucelin / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 8:10 a.m., February 20, 2024

Faced with slowing growth, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire presented a plan of ten billion euros in immediate savings. Among the levers: reducing the envelope allocated to the building renovation system or reducing the ecological bonus. Measures which show that ecology is relegated to the background.

Will the energy transition pay the price for the budgetary tightening demanded by the Minister of the Economy? Faced with a downwardly revised growth forecast, Bruno Le Maire announced on Sunday evening that the State will have to make 10 billion euros in savings in 2024. Among the levers identified: MaPrimeRénov', the State system for helping households better insulate their homes and thus reduce their environmental impact. 

Finances before the environment

Last year, former Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne proudly announced an additional 1.6 billion euros for the system, praising an “unprecedented” effort. A few months later, the economic situation changed. Unemployment is on the rise again, growth will not be as flourishing as expected and public spending must therefore be cut. So ultimately, the envelope will be reduced by a billion. There will only be an increase of 600 million euros.

"The commitment now is to respect the reduction of deficits as France has committed to with Brussels and this objective comes before all others. Whether it is the reduction of unemployment or gas greenhouse effect", analyzes Éric Heyer, economist at the OFCE.

Leasing and bonuses sacrificed to limit budgetary damage

This is not the first time that the transition has taken a toll on public finances in recent weeks. If the executive announced the closure of the social leasing system after only six weeks of existence in 2024, it is a question of budget. The explanation also holds for the reduction in the ecological bonus. “Without this aid or with less aid, will the French continue to buy as many electric cars?” asks Flavien Neuvy, economist and director of the Cetelem Observatory. “This is a question we are asking ourselves and it will be monitored in 2024.”

From now on, the executive no longer excludes anything. Tuesday morning, in Bercy, the entourage of Bruno Le Maire and Thomas Cazenave even mentioned the possibility of drawing on the billions from the France 2030 plan supposed to modernize industry, if the economic situation continues to deteriorate.