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Fuel rebate, pensions hike and gas price freeze – French MPs vote on package of inflation measures

After France's Assemblé Nationale voted on the second bill to combat the cost of living crisis, it went over to the senate where lawmakers voted on measures to increase purchasing power in France.

Fuel rebate, pensions hike and gas price freeze - French MPs vote on package of inflation measures
The French Finance Minister addresses the National Assembly. Recently, they voted on second part bill related to purchasing power. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

After several days of fiery debates, the Assemblé Nationale voted on a second bill to counter the effects of inflation, pulling another nuit blanche (all-nighter) and adopting the bill in the middle of the night on ___, when it passed with 293 votes in favour, 146 against and 17 abstentions.

It then passed over to the Senate, where 225 lawmakers voted for the bill, with 101 against on Tuesday night, August 2nd.

The measures are expected to finally be adopted on Sunday, ___, which will be done a priori on Wednesday evening for the first part, the “emergency” bill, on which deputies and senators have reached an agreement in the joint committee. On Wednesday evening, lawmakers will also seek to find common ground on the ‘rectifying finance bill,’ which could, in case of agreement, be definitively validated on Thursday.

Here is what the deputés voted on:

The fuel rebate – President Emmanuel Macron’s majority coalition reached a compromise with the Les Républicains (LR) to extend the fuel rebate. The subsidy will go from €0.18 to €0.30 in September and October, and then will drop down to €0.10 in November and December.

The audiovisual tax – The deputés voted to abolish the television licence, a €138-per household yearly charge that helps to fund public broadcasting in France.  

Nationalising EDF – To the tune of €9.7 billion, the Assemblé Nationale voted to nationalise the EDF. The state will own 100 percent of the energy provider, having owned 84 percent. This is intended to help get EDF out of its financial and industrial rut.

Tax on ‘super profits’ –  Lawmakers narrowly rejected the idea to tax the “superprofits” or “windfall profits” – which were garnered in the recovery period of the pandemic – for large multinational freight or oil companies.

Pensions – In the end, MPs decided not to vote for the €500 million increase in pensions. The measure had been approved Tuesday night, but a few hours later, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire asked for a second deliberation. This led to the measure being abandoned in the early hours of Wednesday morning, much to the dismay of the opposition.

Budget for the RSA – The Assemblé Nationale voted to allocate €120 million to départements to aid in the ‘revaluation’ process for the top-up benefit RSA, a government device aimed at reducing the barrier to returning to work. 

Increase for tax free ceiling on overtime work – The deputés voted to up the tax-free maximum for overtime work from €5,000 to €7,000. This will concern income made in the year 2022. An additional amendment was voted on to allow employees to be paid out for unused time off. 

Raising the index point for civil servants – MPs voted for civil servants’ pay to be increased by 3.5 percent. It is worth noting that this vote only formalises the financing of the index point increase, which was actually announced at the end of June. It will be retroactive to July 1st. 

Continuation of the energy rate shield –  The Assemblé Nationale voted to maintain the cap (four percent) on price hikes for electricity. It also maintains the freeze on gas prices to their October 2021 level. This is expected to be extended until the end of 2022. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added that “by the end of 2023, we will end the regulated tariffs [of gas] to be in compliance with European rules.”

Aid for households that use oil-fired heating – MPs voted to allocate €230 million in aid for low-income families who use oil-fired boilers to heat their homes. This is an increase from what the president’s coalition had proposed, which was an aid of €50 million.

Finally, the deputés voted on a symbolic amendment aimed at ‘accidental Americans’ – parliament denounced American legislation that forces French citizens born in the United States to pay taxes there, even if they have lived most of their lives in France.

These measures will still need to be approved by the Senate, who will consider the bill in the coming days. 

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POLITICS

Beautiful game sparks ugly row at French parliament

Sport and charity work are among few subjects warring politicians unite around, but not so in the new French parliament where a dispute has erupted over whether far-right MPs can play in the assembly's football team.

Beautiful game sparks ugly row at French parliament

Left-wing parties and the governing Renaissance group of President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday they would boycott a charity game if the far-right National Rally (RN) joins the parliament side.

Even though the RN has historically high representation with 89 seats in the assembly, “that doesn’t mean that we should help them in their desire to normalise themselves,” government spokesman Olivier Veran told CNews television.

Senior Renaissance MP Aurore Berge fretted about the team photo, telling fellow centrist lawmakers: “We are not in the same team. Neither far-right, nor far-left.”

The row underlines a decades-long dilemma for mainstream French politicians over how to deal with the far-right parties of Jean Marie Le Pen and his daughter Marine Le Pen since their emergence in the 1970s.

Some have tried to boycott them entirely, including former president Jacques Chirac, who refused to debate Jean-Marie in 2002 when they faced off in the final round of the presidential election.

She scored 41.4 percent in the second round of April’s presidential election and the party increased its number of seats 10-fold in June’s parliamentary vote.

“It says a lot about these people in reality,” Le Pen told RTL radio on Wednesday about the football row. “It’s hatred all the time,  everywhere, non-stop fighting.”

Veran, an enthusiastic player in previous parliament charity matches, acknowledged his own misgivings about the boycott.

“In saying that I won’t go to play, I am taking part in a phenomenon that serves to reinforce the notion that they (the far-right) are ostracised, that they are victims of the system,” he said.

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