How the executive split over the ‘superprofits’ tax
Officially, it is still not a tax. “European contribution mechanism”, “undue profits”, “windfalls “… For a few days, the executive has been multiplying the convolutions to avoid the flammable expression of “tax on “superprofits””, a device claimed on the left and which it has been trying to escape for months. However, on Monday, September 5, Emmanuel Macron ended up supporting the idea of a contribution that would be requested, at European level, from energy companies “whose production costs are much lower than the selling price on the market”, said the head of state during a press conference. A track mentioned in the same terms a few hours earlier by the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
The growing pressure from the opposition, combined with European neighbors – Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and now Germany – putting in place in turn devices supposed to bring in a few tens of billions of euros, has forced Paris to review its position. And to implicitly return to a promise repeated in July: that of not increasing taxes during the five-year term.
This development comes to close a debate open for months within the executive and the majority, opposing in particular Bercy, hostile to the idea of a tax, to Matignon, who has never closed the door. . “Borne and Le Maire do not come from the same political backgrounds”summarizes an adviser to the executive, who nevertheless admits that“They had found a balance on the subject”, the Prime Minister brandishing the threat that allowed the Minister of the Economy to bend the companies. Coming from the left, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, has thus always left open the option of exceptional taxation, even letting a handful of parliamentarians from the majority advance on this subject in the midst of a debate on purchasing power in Parliament. this summer. “She listened to us expound this idea very freely, without opposing it”says a posteriori the president of the law commission, Sacha Houlié.
An “ideological emphasis” for The Mayor
The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, on the other hand, has constantly expressed his opposition to it, denouncing a “ideological emphasis”. “A tax has never improved the lives of our compatriots. Our compatriots need money in their pockets, not in the pockets of the state”insisted the former right-wing elected official before Parliament in July, preferring to ask the companies concerned to“lighten the bill” directly to consumers. What some have done, such as Total, which granted a discount to the pump, or the shipowner CMA-CGM, which accepted a reduction in freight rates. The few majority deputies who were campaigning for a tax then backtracked. “If the French pay 20 cents less at the pump, it’s because we got busy, we remember in Bercy. We could also have let EDF see its profits explode and then tax them. We preferred to constrain them upstream. »
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