France promises ‘more targeted’ aid to help with rising fuel costs

A new system based on income, vehicle type and distance driven is being planned for summer. It would replace the current 18 centimes rebate, say ministers

A man filling up his car with fuel looking into an empty wallet
The French government has said it is planning a “more targeted” fuel support system to help drivers who need it most
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The French government has suggested that it will bring in “more targeted” aid to help consumers with the price of fuel, replacing the “rebate” of 18 centimes per litre that is set to last until July 31.

The economy minister this week confirmed that the government was working on plans to offer better help to drivers who use their vehicles heavily and low-income households.

The type of aid has not yet been revealed but reports suggest that it could take the form of a cheque or tax credit.

The 18-centime rebate per litre was introduced on April 1 to help drivers amid the soaring cost of fuel caused partly by the war in Ukraine. This is set to end after July 31.

Read more: Fuel prices: Eight questions on 18c refund in France

Yet, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told FranceInfo: “We will maintain [some kind of] system because prices remain very high.”

The minister said that he was “cautiously” in favour of a “more effective system that is more targeted towards people who have no other choice but to use their vehicle to go to work, or because they are heavy users”.

He said: “The idea is that we will vote on these measures in July. The problem with the 18 centimes refund is that it benefits everyone, no matter their level of income.”

The current rebate system is estimated to cost €3billion-€4billion for just four months.

The minister confirmed that Prime Minister Jean Castex had “asked us to work on” a new system that will be ready by the summer, and will be “an alternative” to the 18 centimes rebate.

Those eligible will be calculated automatically by the finance ministry, taking into account “the details of your income, the vehicle you have, the vehicle’s fuel consumption, the number of kilometres you do,” said Mr Le Maire, adding again that this would make the aid much “more targeted” than the current system.

It is not yet clear how the government would collect these details.

Newly-reelected President Emmanuel Macron has said that the cap on gas and electricity prices will be limited to 4% for “as long as necessary”.

Fuel prices still high and rising

It comes as fuel prices in France are rising again, with diesel costing an average of €1.8769 per litre last week. However, the rise is less pronounced for unleaded 95 E10, which saw an average of €1.7476.

Prices had previously dropped for several weeks. The average price of diesel rose by 6.4 centimes last week (versus 1.3 centimes for unleaded 95 petrol), according to figures published by the Ecology Ministry on April 22.

Without the rebate, prices would be very close or over €2 per litre on diesel and unleaded petrol. Even with the rebate, they are markedly close to that threshold.

Some fuel stations are showing prices above €2, depending on location.

The latest figures to today (April 26) show averages of:

  • Diesel: €1.88 with rebate, €2.06 without

  • Unleaded 95 (E5): €1.80 with rebate, €1.98 without

  • Unleaded 95 (E10): €1.75 with rebate, €1.93 without

  • GPL: €0.86 with rebate, €1.04 without

  • Superethanol-E85: €0.76 with rebate, €0.94 without

The price of Brent crude oil (the baseline) was at US$105.9 per barrel, after a rise of $1.6 last week. This is in contrast to early April, when the price per barrel dropped by $10 to keep the price under the $100 threshold.

The record is $147 per barrel, in July 2008.

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