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Carbon tax: ministers and majority reopen debate

Should we restore the carbon tax? Several ministers and deputies of the majority pleaded these last days for new increases of the levies on the fuels. A strategy judged "effective" in the fight against global warming, but that the executive temporarily interrupted in December, facing the crisis of yellow vests. "It's like the horse: when you fall, you have to go right back, otherwise you'll be afraid of it all your life," justifies a ministerial source favorable to the restoration of carbon taxation.

The latter is "An effective tool for changing investment decisions, promoting virtuous behavior, giving an advantage to vehicles or boilers that consume little or no fossil fuels and respond to the climate emergency," estimate 86 deputies from LREM groups, Modem, UDI, PS and Liberties and Territories, in a forum published Wednesday by the Figaro. While calling for preserving the modest households of the effects of these increases and devote the proceeds to the energy transition.

"Moderate" increase

A position already expressed in recent days by several members of the government. "This is the moment or never to discuss it," Tuesday on Europe 1 Minister of ecological transition, François de Rugy. Recalling that "Three cents up on gasoline and fuel is 2 billion euros" of revenue for the state. Two secretaries of state attached to the same ministry had previously mentioned a possible return of the tax. This one is a "Effective tool", had judged Brown Poirson on Sunday. A shared opinion the next day by Emmanuelle Wargon.

Read also86 MEPs call for the return of a "fair" carbon tax

Like the deputies, however, the three ministers do not envisage a return to the identical of the increase canceled by the executive. For François de Rugy, this would only be acceptable if the money collected was dedicated "100% ecological transition and help for those who need it the most". The Minister also considered that the increase "Maybe more moderate" than originally planned. Monday, the delegate general of the Republic in motion, Stanislas Guerini, had declared himself in favor of carbon taxation, "But provided thatthis does not happen at the expense of the most popular classes ". Prudent, the president of the LREM group in the Assembly, Gilles Le Gendre, saw in the carbon tax a "Fiscal weapon" useful but must be part of a "Socially equitable and accepted approach".

"It's powder"

Adopted under François Hollande and reinforced by the current executive, the "carbon trajectory" was to see increase every year the amount of fuel taxes. In January, they were to increase by 2.9 cents per liter for gasoline and 6.5 cents for diesel. But the prospect of this rise was the trigger for the yellow vests crisis, prompting the government to announce in December its "cancellation" for the coming year.

"No tax can question the national unity", The Prime Minister was then judged, without formally excluding his eventual return to the end of the great national debate. For many observers, the yellow vests crisis had definitely buried any further rise in fuel taxes. "Today, I do not see any hypothesis in which we can easily leave with an increase of this tax, that is clear", Edouard Philippe publicly agreed in January.

«Lépine Contest»

That the subject comes back today on the table does not arouse today a unanimous enthusiasm in the presidential camp. "I really do not understand why it comes out now, a minister is surprised. We are really in the competition Lépine. This seems to me a debate even more risky than the reform of the public service " – object of a draft bill that must present Thursday the Secretary of State Olivier Dussopt, and some fear that he mobilizes officials against him.

Read alsoClimate emergency: for the simple and good ration

The carbon tax, "It's powder" explosive, we also recognize in the entourage of Edouard Philippe. But this debate internal to the macronie has received the approval of Matignon, it says: "The Prime Minister has encouraged ministers who have strong ideas to defend them publicly." Left to temporarily relieve government discipline. "What we accept from the French in the context of the great debate, we can not ban the ministers, believes Matignon. It's an English garden, we let the roses bloom. If the carbon tax is not defended, its supporters will not regret tomorrow that it is forgotten.

Dominique Albertini



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