The government is considering tax increases for the 2024 budget.

Bruno Le Maire, le ministre de l’économie, et Thomas Cazenave, le ministre délégué au budget, à la sortie du conseil des ministres, à Paris, le 21 juillet 2023.

Sometimes politics has its ironies. It will be up to Thomas Cazenave, the new Minister Delegate for the Budget, to present a budget bill for 2024 at the end of September that is like squaring the circle: reducing expenses to reduce the colossal French debt, while investing in ecological transition and public services. This same Thomas Cazenave, who failed to implement the « CAP 22 » project aimed at reducing public spending at the beginning of Macron’s first term in 2017. Will the former Deputy Director of Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet at Bercy have more success in building the next budget?

More than a year after the re-election of the head of state, the consequences of the various crises (Covid-19, energy) finally seem to be receding. However, the year 2024, which is expected to dominate the agenda of the back-to-school cabinet meeting on Wednesday, August 23, does not bode well for the French. It even threatens to disrupt the economic course set by Emmanuel Macron over the past six years.

Since the beginning of the summer, both Bercy and the Elysée have been preparing minds for a much more frugal budget. There are many reasons for concern: a public debt exceeding 3,000 billion euros for the first time, interest rates soaring for the past eighteen months… The downgrade of France’s sovereign rating by Fitch in April has deeply shaken Bercy. « We all have to make efforts and be responsible for our public accounts. I call on everyone to take budgetary matters seriously, » said Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate for Industry, on August 21st on Europe 1.

In late June, the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, stated his intention to achieve savings of 10 to 12 billion euros by 2024. The government’s focus is on healthcare expenses (increased control over sick leave, raising the medication co-payment to 1 euro) and employment aids that are considered poorly targeted (apprenticeships, personal training accounts). « It will likely be closer to 15 billion, » adds his team today.

Croissance moindre

However, at the same time, the financing of climate change has become prominent in Macron’s administration: economist Jean Pisani-Ferry, former advisor to the president, estimated that over 30 billion euros per year of public funds are needed for the transition. In early July, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced the allocation of 7 billion euros starting from 2024.

L’écologie n’est pas la seule dépense nouvelle avec laquelle Bercy va devoir composer : entre les promesses d’Emmanuel Macron pour les services publics – relèvement du point d’indice des fonctionnaires, moyens supplémentaires pour la police et la justice après les émeutes urbaines de juin – et les différentes lois de programmation (recherche, armées), la liste s’est encore allongée. Le tout, sur fond de croissance moindre.

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