Motorists in France face 'highest fuel prices in Europe'

The Local France
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Motorists in France face 'highest fuel prices in Europe'
Petrol prices in France are higher than in other European countries (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Motorists in France are paying more for their fuel than their European neighbours, new figures show.


Road users in France are paying more for petrol and diesel than their counterparts in other EU countries as oil prices fall, prompting calls from the government for distributors to pass on savings to customers.

Published figures from the European Commission have prompted Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the Minister of Energy Transition, to call for prices to “fall faster”, while while the consumer group Consommation, logement et cadre de vie criticised distributors’ pricing policies as “unjustified”.

The average price in France last week for a litre of unleaded 95 E10 was €1.84, while the cost of diesel was €1.67 per litre - down from highs seen earlier this year, but still noticeably more than motorists are paying in Germany, Italy, or Spain.

At the same time, oil prices have plunged over the past year. Last week, the price of Brent Crude was $72.80/barrel - well down from the $120/barrel price from the Spring of 2022; while the euro has risen against the dollar to the benefit of European countries importing oil.

The average price of a litre of diesel in Germany on May 1st - when the cost was €1.72 in France - was €1.62; while petrol (€1.91 in France) was €1.85. 

In Italy, diesel was €1.71/litre on the same date, and petrol €1.86. Prices in Spain were lower still - diesel was €1.46 and petrol €1.64.

In the UK, the average price of a litre of diesel at the end of April was £1.59/litre (€1.83) while petrol was £1.46/litre (€1.68) according to the RAC. The motoring organisation argued that distributors in the UK were not passing on savings to customers.

MAP: Where to find the cheapest fuel in France

Taxes - which account for 50 percent of the total price paid by motorists in France - are not at issue. Suppliers “looking to recover margins” after heavy discounting in 2022 following Russia's invastion of Ukraine, however, are.


The French government's fuel price subsidy - applied at the pump for much of 2022 - has now come to an end, although low-income households in France can qualify for a grant to help with the cost of filling up their car.

As well as the war in eastern Europe, suppliers say that refinery shutdowns in October and March - over wage and pension reform disputes respectively - created “a huge logistical mess” that has not yet been resolved.

Refineries have restarted production and stocks have been replenished, but “we are still not back to our standard level of optimisation of distribution costs,” oil industry lobby group Ufip Énergies et Mobilités (UfIP) told Le Parisien. 

The petrol industry union UfIP also said that plant-based ethanol added to traditional fuel for environmental reasons makes petrol more expensive, especially as motorists in France use proportionally more E10 (which contains twice as much plant-based fuel than E5).

It also said that further environmental obligations imposed on the industry required them to raise prices in order to pay for financial contributions via Energy Savings Certificates (EEC).


But there is, apparently, a reasonably rapid solution. “If consumers are smart and buy from the most aggressively priced stations, the market will sharpen again,” Olivier Gantois, president of Ufip, the oil industry lobby, said.

You heard the man. Shop around.


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