Energy sobriety: Elisabeth Borne leaves the risk of corporate rationing hanging over the air

Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux said it himself in song when he began his speech this Monday at the Medef summer university, he “dreamed of another world” for this start of the 2022 school year, like the Telephone group before him. Elisabeth Borne, invited to the event, did nothing to brighten her reality.

Thus, the Prime Minister explained that energy rationing measures could be imposed this winter on companies, if ever their energy sobriety efforts were not sufficient in the face of the great tensions on the country’s energy system.

Rather grim picture of the situation

Is it only due to the oratorical style of the Prime Minister, who has little taste for flights from the podium? In any case the audience remained silent, without sketching the beginning of applause, throughout the first half hour of Elisabeth Borne’s speech. It must be said that even if the latter participated in the government of Manuel Valls, she did nothing to reproduce the cajoling declarations of the former head of government, like “I like the company”. Instead, she started ball in the head on a “climate change which is no longer an inconvenient truth, but a reality that destroys”.

No, there are no superprofits on the state side.

Elisabeth Borne

It was only the first feature of a rather gloomy picture of the situation, not far from that sketched by Emmanuel Macron last week. “Massive consequences” in the event of a gas cut by Russia, “difficult, even demanding months and years to come” and “threats of shortages this winter”: an icy wind blew over the business leaders gathered at Longchamp, despite the day sun.

And if that was not enough, she also replied curtly to Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux who had spoken earlier of the State as a “great superprofiter” given the tax revenues. “No, there are no superprofits on the state side,” she assured, recalling the high cost of support measures in the face of soaring energy prices. At least she had the delicacy not to talk about taxing the superprofits of multinationals.

General mobilization

After this observation, the Prime Minister called for general mobilization. “Faced with the threats of shortages this winter, we have only one way: the reduction of energy consumption”, which must be “organized” to avoid “brutal gas cuts”. Everyone is concerned, households – an information campaign on “eco-gestures” will be launched – as administrations.

But this must also concern companies, which have already started to work but must go “further”. “I call on each of the companies to establish, in September, its own sobriety plan”, claimed Elisabeth Borne, while the executive wants to obtain a 10% reduction in energy consumption in France by 2024.

A point will be made at the end of September or the beginning of October, when the State will see more clearly about the constraints and the production capacities. “If everyone does not take his part […] we will have to impose reductions in consumption”, she warned, launching that “companies would be the first affected” in the event of rationing.

Faced with this, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux had previously warned: “Companies will do their part to achieve their objective of sobriety. “The president of Medef had nevertheless returned the political world to its responsibilities, castigating “all those who have pushed for thirty years to give up certain energies or to under-invest”.

Ecological planning: “a battle plan”

Beyond the emergency of this winter, Elisabeth Borne also projected herself into the ecological planning to come, promising “a battle plan” and “visibility and a clear framework for companies”. A meticulous inventory of levers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be launched for all sectors, the first concerned being water, forests and low-carbon energies from September.

“The objective is to achieve a shared vision for all sectors by the end of the year”, according to the Prime Minister, who once again rejected the option of downsizing.

Lower charges

On the Medef side, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux reiterated his commitment to “moderate growth”. But he calls for the maintenance of the supply policy, to allow companies to invest in the climate transition. The rare applause from the audience for Elisabeth Borne’s speech also came at the end, when she tackled the more consensual subjects for the employers’ public of the reform of unemployment insurance, the RSA or the reduction production taxes.

The reduction of 8 billion already promised in this respect is lower than the expectations of Medef, its president also demanding a gesture on the reduction of charges on large salaries. “Trust the intermediary bodies and they will give it back to you,” assured Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux.

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