President Emmanuel Macron has called for people in France to take steps to reduce their energy consumption so as to avoid stricter steps such as rationing.
Mr Macron was speaking during a press conference this afternoon (September 5) about a meeting he had had with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
EN DIRECT | Conférence de presse sur la situation énergétique en Europe. À la suite de la visioconférence avec Olaf Scholz, Chancelier de la République fédérale d'Allemagne, le Président @EmmanuelMacron s'exprime : https://t.co/0i3ExmQUUd— Élysée (@Elysee) September 5, 2022
“Our [gas] reserves are 92-93% full [for this winter]; we are ahead of our objectives,” Mr Macron said.
However, “everyone has their role to play,” he added, calling for individuals to exercise restraint with regards to their energy usage.
“The best energy is that which we do not use,” he stressed, adding that the government aims to reduce consumption by 10% and that households could contribute to this by keeping their central heating at not more than 19C this winter.
With measures such as this, “quite spontaneously, the country will be able to meet its objectives in terms of restraint and avoid going towards something more forceful: rationing.
“If we see that we are not managing [to reduce consumption], we will ask ourselves: ‘should we be more restrictive?’”
“The solutions are in our hands if we know how to make use of restraint and solidarity.
“If we are all responsible [...] everything leads us to believe that we will not reach the point at which rationing is necessary.”
He also said that everyone is already consuming a little less energy than usual because they are aware of the prices and are trying not to be wasteful.
Mr Macron announced that France and Germany would develop a plan which would enable the two countries to help each other if one found itself in need.
“Germany is in need of our gas and we are in need of the electricity produced in the rest of Europe, and in Germany in particular.
“We are going to finalise the necessary gas pipelines to be able to deliver gas to Germany,” he said.
“In the same way, Germany has committed to an ‘electricity solidarity’ with France,” through which it will work to produce a surplus which it can share with France at peak usage times if needs be.
“This reflects European solidarity.”
France protected from highest inflation rates
Mr Macron reiterated the fact that “France is among the countries with the lowest inflation rate in Europe,” and that this was partly because “we have avoided a rise of 50-70% in the price of gas and electricity.
“France is one of the European countries which has protected its households and smaller businesses the most. Many countries are in the process of following our measures.”
“But we know that in the coming months we will have to target our response and have a more structured approach [...] to support households” which have greater need of state aid.
Looking further into the future, Mr Macron also said that: “We must go much faster with the production of renewable energy. We are at war; energy is one of the weapons used by Russia. We must put ourselves in a situation where we can produce alternative sources of electricity more quickly.”
He added that he was in favour of the idea of European countries grouping together to buy natural gas, which will enable them to access it for a cheaper price.
Capping the price of Russian gas
“If the European Commission decided to put a cap on the price of gas bought from Russia, France would support such a measure,” Mr Macron added.
This “seems to be coherent with our sanctions policy and would reduce prices.”