Energy: green light from the Assembly to fiscal leverage to mitigate price increases

This shield consists of a freeze on regulated gas prices and a limitation to 4% of the regulated electricity tariff at the start of 2022.

The National Assembly voted on Thursday the government promise of a tariff shield by playing on taxation to try to mitigate the persistent rise in energy prices, against the backdrop of the memory of the revolt of the yellow vests.

Announced upstream by Jean Castex in the face of a deemed exceptional increase in gas and electricity prices, this tariff shield took the form of a government amendment adopted with the support of the majority and the opposition of right, during the examination of the first part of the 2022 finance bill. In addition to the energy check for 100 euros for the most modest households which will be debated later in the budget discussion, this shield consists of a price freeze regulated gas and a limitation to 4% of the regulated electricity tariff at the start of 2022.

Playing on the fiscal mechanisms of the two taxes, these measures will have a cost for the State, argued the Minister of Public Accounts Olivier Dussopt and the General Budget Rapporteur, Laurent Saint-Martin (LREM). “We have to kill this bad music that says the state is going to make money on rising prices. It is a tariff shield but it is a cost for the community,” insisted Laurent Saint-Martin. To the oppositions which demanded an estimate of the said cost, the majority was not able to provide an answer. “The cost depends on the height of the bump and its duration,” argued Olivier Dussopt, who said he was unable to predict the changes that we will experience.

Tax cuts

The majority rejected the amendments made by the leader of the socialist deputies Valérie Rabault, who wanted in particular to make up for past increases in the cost of energy, arguing a 60% increase in gas prices since the beginning of 2021, which weighs on households, especially in rural areas. Boss of the Finance Committee, Eric Woerth (LR) agreed on the need for these tax cuts in an attempt to lessen the economic shock, when Eric Coquerel (LFI) tackled a shield largely made of cardboard and proposed to tax exceptionally the profits of energy companies.

On the left and on the right, we waved the memory of the yellow vests in the fall of 2018 when the increase in the energy bill was synonymous with a social explosion. A comparison swept away by Laurent Saint-Martin: “Here it is the world economy which is causing prices to soar and not a tax”. He praised the sense of anticipation of the majority: “one can learn from recent history”.