Finally ! Announced in April by Emmanuel Macron, the executive’s package of measures for the purchasing power of the French has just cleared the last hurdle it had left before its entry into force. The Constitutional Council validated this Friday the two bills that constituted it, while adding reservations to the provisions around the abolition of the fee and especially certain measures related to the energy emergency.
“Against rising prices, the State is taking action,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced on twitter, rejoicing that the Elders have “validated the measures voted by Parliament to fight against inflation: they will be quickly implemented.
Presented at the beginning of July in the Council of Ministers, the two legislative texts had been definitively adopted by the Assembly and the Senate at the beginning of August. But it still remained to ensure that these would not be partially invalidated by the Constitutional Council, after several appeals filed by the opposition, which is therefore done.
In detail, the Elders focused more particularly on the appeals centered on two specific provisions of the bill. The first concerned the abolition of the fee. The Insoumis deputies in particular had challenged this measure, which should lead to the allocation to the audiovisual public service of part of the VAT to compensate for the loss of funding.
The Constitutional Council ultimately did not agree with this appeal, validating the device. If he recognizes that the abolition of the fee is “likely to affect the guarantee of the resources of the public audiovisual sector which constitutes an element of its independence”, he nevertheless judges that the share of VAT promised should alleviate this problem.
However, it matches its validation with reservations, warning the government that it will be particularly vigilant in respecting its commitments. “It will suit the legislator [pour les années 2023 et 2024 et les exercices postérieurs] to set the amount of these revenues so that the companies and the public audiovisual establishment are able to carry out the public service missions entrusted to them”, is it written in its opinion.
The second sensitive point is the “energy sovereignty” component which grants unprecedented powers to the State to operate the French gas infrastructures as it deems essential this winter. These measures had been added to the text as the winter promises to be particularly difficult with the threat of a cut in gas deliveries by Russia.
The preservation of the environment must be sought in the same way as the other fundamental interests of the nation.
The Insoumis deputies and environmentalists were moved by the potentially harmful environmental consequences of measures facilitating the deployment of a floating LNG terminal, or those easing the operating conditions of certain facilities producing electricity from fossil fuels. These provisions have been validated, but the Constitutional Council “frames by new terms, by reservations of interpretation set out on the basis of the Environmental Charter, the implementation”, is it written in the opinion.
The Elders thus recognize that these provisions are “likely to harm the environment”. Above all, they add that “the preservation of the environment must be sought in the same way as the other fundamental interests of the nation”, ie an “unpublished” formulation, according to the published opinion.
Purchasing power goals
Therefore, if the measures are well validated, the government must nevertheless scrupulously respect the exceptional conditions and the compensation provided for the implementation of the measures. In particular, they should apply “only in the event of a serious threat to the security of gas supply” and “threat to the security of electricity supply in all or part of the national territory”.
The way is therefore now clear for the application of this first legislation of Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term. It had been necessary to fight hard for the government in Parliament – in particular by negotiating with the elected LR – to win their case and have these measures voted for, which should make it possible to cushion the shock on purchasing power caused by soaring prices.
Among the symbolic measures, there are in particular the revaluation of pensions and social minima, the 3.5% increase in the salaries of civil servants, the extension of the fuel discount for prices at the pump – to -30 cents per liter in September and October, then -10 in November and December – and the back-to-school bonus. Contested by the Insoumis deputies, the monetization of the RTTs was not invalidated by the Constitutional Court.