Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

France eyes petrol vouchers to ease energy price squeeze

CommoditiesOct 18, 2021 08:40AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire attends a news conference to present French government 2022 budget at the Bercy Finance Ministry in Paris, France, September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

By Leigh Thomas and Benoit Van Overstraeten

PARIS (Reuters) - French ministers floated the possibility of petrol vouchers for low-income households on Monday, as President Emmanuel Macron's government seeks to limit the damage from surging energy prices to his economic record six months from a presidential election.

The government has already scrambled in recent weeks to cap gas and electricity prices and increase handouts to help the poor pay winter heating bills as energy prices jumped worldwide on the strength of the post-pandemic economic recovery.

With economic growth set to top 6% this year as the COVID-19 crisis subsides, the economy had been viewed as Macron's strong suit heading towards the April election, in which he is widely expected to seek a second five-year term.

But the price spike could hurt his record by eclipsing purchasing power gains during his presidency, which were fuelled largely by tax cuts.

Graphic: French household purchasing power growth ,

As petrol prices have steadily climbed in recent weeks, the government has faced growing pressure to cut taxes paid at the pump, which can amount to up to 60% of what drivers pay.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, however, that would not only be costly to public finances but would also amount to a subsidy for fossil fuels at a time when the government was trying to wean the economy off them.

"I prefer 'petrol cheques' to a lowering of taxes", Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio.

Environment Minister Barbara Pompili also made the case for petrol vouchers on France 2 TV, but added that it was a complex process to put in place.


With energy prices a big part of households' budgets, tax on them can be a sensitive issue in France and were at the heart of waves of weekly demonstrations by protestors known as "Gilets Jaunes" due to the high-visibility yellow vests they wear.

Once again, squeezed purchasing power has become a top theme at recent Yellow Vest protests.

"There are mothers-of-two who have to chose between paying their energy bill and feeding their children," one protestor told Reuters TV at a demo earlier this month. "Therein lies the problem: what's left to live by after we've paid the energy bill?"

The Yellow Vest protests were triggered by a planned tax increase on fossil fuels in 2018, which set off some of the worst street violence seen in the French capital in decades.

After spiralling into a broader movement against Macron and elitism in general, the protests only slowly subsided as his government sought to boost households' purchasing power with a 5 billion euro cut in income tax.

Thanks to those tax cuts and other measures, disposable income is set to have grown twice as fast under Macron's presidency as under his predecessors Socialist Francois Hollande and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the Treasury's annual economic and social report earlier this month.

Macron's office acknowledges that what the numbers show does not necessarily accord with the public's perception, with polls suggesting a majority of people think their purchasing power has been squeezed under his presidency.

Against that background the government capped retail gas prices this month until March, when it hopes the price spike will fade.

It also plans to cut a surcharge on electricity prices to limit a price increase to 4% in the first half of 2022, instead of the 12% that could otherwise have been expected.

Meanwhile, it has hiked the budget for vouchers that people on low income can use to cover their energy bills by 600 million euros.

France eyes petrol vouchers to ease energy price squeeze

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Scott Bailey
Scott Bailey Oct 18, 2021 9:31AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Another socialist agenda!
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email