Purchasing power: despite "unpublished" reservations, the Constitutional Council gives the green light

Sigh of relief from the side of the executive, the obstacle of rue Montpensier is over.

Purchasing power: despite "unpublished" reservations, the Constitutional Council gives the green light

Sigh of relief from the side of the executive, the obstacle of rue Montpensier is over. The Constitutional Council, seized by more than 120 deputies and senators from the left, validated, on Friday August 12, the two texts of laws on purchasing power. However, he issued "unpublished" reservations to certain provisions of the energy part. With these two decisions rendered, the Elders also validated with "reservations of interpretation" the abolition of the audiovisual license fee.

It should be noted that the latter allow the Constitutional Council to declare a provision in conformity with the Constitution provided that it is interpreted or applied in the manner indicated. In other words, without this reservation, the provision concerned could be censured. Concerning the draft law on emergency measures for the protection of purchasing power, the reservations of the Elders related to the commissioning of an LNG terminal off Le Havre and to the increase in the ceiling for emissions of greenhouse gases from certain facilities producing electricity from fossil fuels. A measure that goes against the European agreement which plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030.

For the Constitutional Council, these provisions are "likely to harm the environment". And "unless the Environmental Charter is ignored, these provisions can only apply in the event of a serious threat to the security of gas supply" and "threat to the security of electricity supply of all or part of the national territory", indicates the Council.

The Sages add that "the preservation of the environment must be sought in the same way as the other fundamental interests of the nation". Words that resonate all the more with the heat wave that has been hitting France for several weeks.

Regarding the revival of power plants using fossil fuels, the Council has set "an obligation to offset greenhouse gas emissions". The rebellious deputies and environmentalists, at the origin of the appeal, considered that these provisions violated the Charter of the environment of 2004, which is part of the preamble of the Constitution. Vice-president of the LFI-NUPES group, Clémence Guetté had accused the government project of "crushing environmental law".

Concerning the amending finance bill, the second part of the purchasing power bill, the Constitutional Council, seized by the Nupes intergroup and the socialist senators, ruled that the abolition of the audiovisual license fee was constitutional. However, he stressed that this was "likely to affect the guarantee of the resources of the public audiovisual sector, which constitutes an element of its independence". The Elders therefore enjoined the government to "fix the amount of these revenues so that the companies and the public audiovisual establishment are able to carry out the public service missions". And to warn that the Constitutional Council "will be the judge of compliance with these requirements".

The deputies of Nupes had judged, in their appeal, that the alternative financing mechanism proposed (allocation of part of the VAT) "does not make it possible to ensure the security of the financing of audiovisual establishments". "Democracy needs a strong, reformed public audiovisual service, with fairer funding and guaranteeing independence," said LFI MP Clémentine Autain.

On the other hand, the appeals on the monetization of the RTT and the ceiling of the Arenh (regulated access to historical nuclear electricity) were rejected. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne welcomed the validation of these measures which "will be quickly implemented", assuring on Twitter that "against rising prices, the State is acting". “The French will be able to quickly benefit from the support measures they need”, for her part affirmed the president of the National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet (Renaissance, ex-LREM).

After a first part of measures in favor of purchasing power including 20 billion euros of expenditure, the Parliament adopted, at the beginning of August, the rectified budget for 2022 (PLFR), which opens 44 billion euros of appropriations.