France is preparing to bring in a raft of new measures aimed at helping people cope with rising prices, including food cheques for the lowest income households and further protection against soaring energy costs.
This was announced by the French government’s new spokesperson, Olivia Grégoire at a press conference following the conclusion of the first Conseil des ministres cabinet meeting of prime minister Élisabeth Borne’s government.
She said that the government is committed to maintaining people’s “buying power,” with “a first bill which should be adopted by the Conseil des ministres before the legislative elections” on June 12 and 19.
It has not yet been decided whether this will be before the first or second round.
“I will be delighted to outline the contours of this bill as soon as they have been decided. As I have said, it will be in the coming weeks.”
It will then be presented before Parliament just after the legislative elections.
The bill will aim to “help all people in France to reduce constraints on their spending, acting on prices – particularly with regards to energy with price caps.
“It will also take action on food prices with the introduction of a chèque alimentation (food cheque) and on transport prices with the fuel discount,” Ms Grégoire added.
She also assured that social contributions will be reduced for self-employed workers, civil servant salaries will be increased, more modest pensions will also rise and that the ‘prime Macron’ boost to spending power will indeed be tripled, as the president has previously promised.
“The government is there to act and to act fast,” Ms Grégoire said.
To mark her first press conference as government spokesperson, Ms Grégoire said: “I hope, with precision, regularity and humility, to be able to offer reliable, clear and transparent words from a government who is in [your] service.”
She added that she wished to “explain the policies directed by the government to the French people in an intelligible manner” and to “draw out simplistic narratives” which “caricature” reality.
Minister accused of rape
Today’s Conseil des ministres meeting also covered some of the key priorities of President Macron’s reelection campaign, including education, healthcare, the ecological transition and tackling inflation.
It came as newly appointed minister for solidarity and the disabled, Damien Abad, is accused of raping two women in 2010 and 2011 as reported in an article published on the French site Mediapart. He has denied the allegations.
One of the women lodged a complaint against Mr Abad in 2017, but it was later closed with no further action being taken, both Mediapart and Mr Abad himself have stated.
In a statement, Mr Abad said: “I contest with the greatest force these accusations of sexual violence. The sexual relations that I have had throughout my life have always been by mutual consent.”
During today’s press conference, Ms Grégoire said: “Establishing the truth is the job of the justice system,” adding that “to my knowledge, no member of the government knew about the matter.”
She added that the government is working “tirelessly” to “encourage women who have been the victims of violence to go to the authorities”.