President Macron promised money for drivers to help with fuel costs and more help to pay for an electric vehicle during a live 30-minute TV interview last night (Sunday, September 24).
He also said that gas boilers will not be banned and deflected responsibility for this year’s significant rises in the taxe foncière from the government to individual local authorities.
French political theatre usually requires that the president speaks at key moments to react to events and present policy changes.
However French journalists often show such high levels of deference and respect for his office that he can skirt around difficult questions.
After congratulating his country, his security services - and himself by extension - for managing the visits of King Charles and the pope at the same time as the Rugby World Cup, Mr Macron appeared to stroll through the interview, under the gaze of two rather accommodating journalists from France Television and TF1.
Click here to watch the interview.
What did Mr Macron have to say?
On the cost of living crisis
- “€100 per car per year for workers”
Workers on modest revenues will receive an annual payment for petrol. However, Mr Macron added the caveat that this was to be determined based on what the budget can permit.
- “Wages should not be indexed against prices”
France is doing well on employment and job creation needs to be at the centre of the drive to meet the crisis. However, the president says indexing wages against prices would lead to a cycle of inflation.
- “We need to get everyone around table”
Profit margins need to be controlled by reaching an agreement with producers and large retailers to limit shop prices. Just how effective this may be is unclear particularly in light of the lukewarm reception to his measures on petrol prices.
- “High petrol prices are not due to taxes”
While almost 50% of the price of petrol is tax, Mr Macron says price increases are due to factors outside of his control and the high tax is necessary for the transition to a greener economy.
- “Tax rises are not due to the government”
Mr Macron insists that increases in the taxe foncière are due to local authorities. He says his government has eliminated €60billion in taxes including the ending of the taxe d’habitation for main homes.
On carbon neutrality
- “We will not prohibit the installation of new gas boilers”
People living in the rural areas cannot be left without a heating solution. Indeed, the Elysée has had one fitted [Two oil boilers were replaced, one with a gas boiler, the other a heat pump].
He reaffirmed his commitment to heat pumps, saying that France would triple production.
Read more: U-turn expected on gas boiler ban in France
- “€100 per month to rent an electric car made in Europe”
The new help will be introduced before 2024 to allow more people to rent electric cars made in Europe, presumably via a modification of the bonus ecologique.
- “We are going to invest €40billion next year”
France will stop producing energy with fossil fuels by 2027. The two remaining coal fired power stations will be converted to biomass.
- “France must produce electric cars and batteries”
France is to ‘reindustrialise’ to produce electric cars, creating tens of thousands of jobs. He said four giant factories had been opened to make batteries in France in recent months.
- “France cannot host all of the world’s misery”
France is accepting enough migrants already, with “several tens of thousands coming in the past few years”.
Mr Macron refused to comment on the regularisation of illegal immigrants but said that people who work in France should not be left in “administrative precarity.”
- “Cooperation on a European level”
Partnership with the UK has worked in Calais. The same model of cooperation needs to be used with Italy and with transit countries such as Tunisia and Algeria.
On foreign policy
- “France has decided to end its military cooperation with Niger”
By the end of the year, France will withdraw soldiers from Niger “in coordination with the putschists.” Mr Macron says that France should not be responsible for the future of Niger and has done enough there.
- “France supports the Armenian people”
France will supply humanitarian aid and help in the negotiations with Azerbaijan and Armenia to ease the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has seen thousands of ethnic Armenians displaced.
What did he not address?
- The success of his political rivals in the senate
Mr Macron’s Renaissance party lost several seats in the senate this week. The senate is dominated by his political rivals Les Republicains.
Marine le Pen’s party won three seats in the senate.
- Power struggles in his party
Does Mr Macron have a political heir? He came to power having previously been a minister under François Hollande - are any of his own ministers vying for power?
- His low approval rating
Mr Macron has a 65% disapproval rating, according to Politico. Does this have any bearing on a president who cannot stand for reelection?
- The general strike on October 13
Eight unions have announced their intention to strike on Friday October 13 against the cost of living crisis and for salary equality for men and women.