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No more TV licence: The measures Macron is banking on to fight cost of living crisis

With prices of essential products as well as fuel continuing to rise in France President Emmanuel Macron is planning on introducing or extending a series of measures to ease the burden on households.

No more TV licence: The measures Macron is banking on to fight cost of living crisis
70 years old Gabrielle Peraldi prepares food package to people in need at the Croix Rouge help centre in Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, on February 1, 2022.. (Photo by Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP)

With the parliamentary elections a month away (June 12th – 19th) and Prime Minister Jean Castex’s resignation expected imminently Macron’s current government spokesman Gabriel Attal has listed a few steps it would take to combat inflation and rising costs of living.

 The measures will of course depend on Macron’s group winning a majority in parliament.

The bill, which would focus on household purchasing power would be in parliament “as soon as the MPs are elected,” promised current president of the Assemblé Nationale and Macron ally, Richard Ferrand, last Sunday.

Following Wednesday’s Council of Minister’s meeting government spokesperson Gabriel Attal mentioned a few measures that the new government – once it has been named – will seek to push through.

Here is what they have proposed so far:

Extending the existing cap on energy prices until the end of 2022

In September 2021, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a “tariff shield” to protect French households from global increases on electricity tariffs. The price hike intended for February 2022 was capped at four percent, which stands to be extended until the end of 2022.

Extending of the €0.15 to €0.18 rebate per litre of fuel, to address the rising cost of fuel

As of April 1st, the French government has been offering a €0.15 to €0.18 rebate per litre of fuel to offset soaring fuel prices. This measure, which cost the French government just over €2 billion, was only intended to be in effect for four months (originally set to end August 2022). It also stands to be extended after the upcoming parliamentary elections. There is also talk of creating an additional aid device specifically for workers who travel long distances to get to the office.

Abolishing the ‘audiovisual tax’ or TV licence

Any resident that owns a television or “equivalent device” is required to pay an audiovisual license fee (redevance audiovisuelle).

The money from this tax is used to finance public television and radio broadcasters. On the campaign trail, President Macron promised to scrap this tax if re-elected. The official notes from Council of Minister’s meeting says the government intends to do this in 2022, but does not make it clear when.

Tripling of the cap for the “Macron” bonus 

This is the tax-free bonus that companies can choose to offer to employees who make under the minimum wage tripled. The government is now proposing to triple the original maximum for this bonus, which was previously set to €1,000. It could rise to €2,000, and even to €6,000 for companies, with less than 50 employees.

Indexing pensions, to make them more reflective of higher costs of living

Macron discussed adjusting retirees’ pensions to reflect inflation while campaigning. The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire referred to it as an “urgent measure” to increase the purchasing power of elderly French people.

Creating a food voucher for the lowest earning households

Another campaign promise from Macron, this would be specifically intended to help low-earning households and self-employed people combat rising prices at the grocery store. This could represent between €50 to €60 per month.

Ultimately, the implementation of the law to build up household purchasing power will depend on the results of the législatives. The latest polls indicate that the Presidents’ Ensemble coalition will win an estimated 300 to 350 seats, which represents an absolute majority. In contrast, the United Left coalition (Nupes) are expected to come in second place with between 105 and 168 seats, while the National Rally and the Republicans are estimated to trail behind, respectively.

What about the other parties, though?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been campaigning for the 3ème tour (parliamentary elections) with proposals to lower the VAT (the ‘Value Added Tax,’ or Goods and Services Tax that exists in the European Union) and fix prices for certain products. Some of Mélenchon’s co-candidates in the Left coalition have proposed more drastic changes, such as a proposal to index wages to be proportional to rising inflation. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen has stated her opposition to Macron’s government’s plans, arguing they support the already privileged, and that her party would work to “defend work and purchasing power.”

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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