After four days of discussions and a whole night of stormy debates, the deputies adopted at first reading the "emergency" bill for purchasing power, a protean text whose aim is to play the shields against inflation and the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. It was validated shortly before 6 a.m. by 341 votes for, 116 against and 21 abstentions.
Deprived of an absolute majority, the presidential camp had to count on the support of elected LR and RN officials who paid lip service to certain "advances", while the left was indignant. "These people have purses instead of their hearts!" Inveighed against Mathilde Panot, president of the La France Insoumise group at the National Assembly. "Green Ayatollahs", "fachos", "energy nullities": the attacks rocketed, pushing the lower house to the brink of boiling.
This night of negotiations led to several measures, which members of the executive welcomed on Twitter. The text provides in particular for the tripling to 6,000 euros of the cap on tax-free bonuses – known as “Macron bonuses” – that companies can pay to their employees. This measure was fought throughout the week by the Nupes, which demanded wage increases, and in particular the minimum wage.
MEPs also increased retirement pensions and several allowances (family, social minima) by 4% with retroactive effect from July 1, 2022, without waiting for the date of automatic annual revaluation. Added to this is the capping of rent increases at 3.5% in France and the facilitation of online termination of subscriptions. A 3.5% increase in the salary of public officials and a food check of 100 euros (plus 50 euros per child) were also voted.
In fact, the few amendments from the oppositions which received the support of the government came mainly from the benches of LR. In search of respectability, the RN, which had shown its desire to vote for the text, spoke of "small but real gains in purchasing power", despite numerous shortcomings.
It is particularly on the energy side that the government text has come under very severe criticism. "Your climate denial borders on climatoscepticism, and your social denial borders on contempt", protested Sandrine Rousseau, ecologist deputy. In order to counter a possible closing of the Russian gas tap, the bill introduces measures which caused a stir in the hemicycle. The left-wing MEPs spoke out in particular against the introduction of derogations from environmental law aimed at accelerating the commissioning of an LNG terminal in Le Havre, capable of transporting gas from countries other than Russia, and through which American shale gas could pass.
"Such a decision is suicidal," thundered environmentalist Delphine Batho. "If the decision is to replace Putin's gas with American shale gas, it's sheer madness," she added. The Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher defended herself, but without convincing the left: "We are talking about replacing one fossil fuel with another fossil fuel. Not emitting more CO2." Another article in the text, offering a legal framework for the upcoming restart of the Saint-Avold coal-fired power station, did not only make the Greens scream. The Republicans and the National Rally saw it as the "disastrous" consequence of the government's energy policy. "This return to coal is not good news", agreed LREM rapporteur Maud Bregeon, who however defended a "temporary" appeal to respond to an "exceptional situation".
In the midst of the tensions, the examination of the text reserved a small surprise: the authorization, with the approval of the government, of the use of used oils as fuel. "In France, we don't have oil but we have frying oil", joked Julien Bayou (EELV), at the origin of this amendment. According to the MP's written arguments, 10 liters of properly reprocessed waste oil can yield 8 liters of fuel, which emits up to 90% less greenhouse gases than conventional diesel.
After the adoption by the Assembly, the text will then pass through the hands of the Senators. But the deputies will only know a short moment of respite: hostilities could resume this Friday afternoon, since the examination of the amending finance bill begins. This must complete the measures of the bill just adopted and also includes some explosive proposals, such as the abolition of the audiovisual license fee.