Carburants: «Osons la baisse des taxes» – par Arnaud Robinet

On Monday evening in Reims, like in most French cities, the price of fuel was close to 2 euros per liter. Inflation is affecting everyone, to the extent that one in two French people claim to skip meals. When one in three French people have less than 100 euros by the 10th of the month, we can understand the impact that the increase in fuel prices can have on millions of families.

Fuel, like food, is a basic necessity for the French, even in cities. In Reims, cars still play a major role, with 52% of trips being made by car in the Greater Reims area. In France, 75% of employed individuals use their car on a daily basis. Even in urban areas, such high fuel prices have a significant impact on purchasing power. Let’s not forget that it was the sudden increase in fuel prices that sparked the Yellow Vest movement, even though a liter of fuel was only reaching 1.50 euros at the time! Just imagine the social consequences of an additional 50 cents…

A lire aussi: Bruno Le Maire declares that the sale of fuel at a loss will come into effect « at the beginning of December ».

In the face of inflation, its social consequences, and political risks, the government has made the choice of an unprecedented and surprising measure. The temporary authorization for six months for gas stations to sell fuel at a loss. Unprecedented because France had never dared to sacrifice the prohibition of selling at a loss decreed in 1963 during the rise of large supermarkets. Surprising because every French person knows that there is no such thing as magic money and that if a station loses money on a product, it will make up for it with others to maintain its margins.


Tabou La motivation du gouvernement reste louable. Je salue l’esprit de responsabilité qui entend endiguer la flambée des prix à la pompe sans creuser le déficit budgétaire. Comme je salue la volonté de ne pas subventionner des énergies fossiles. Pourtant, l’argument environnemental ne résiste pas aux ristournes sur le carburant accordées aux Français il y a quelques mois à peine. Comment comprendre le refus d’une mesure hier encore abondamment accordée ?

Out of the 10,000 French stations, 2,500 would be unable to sell at a loss without risking closure. This measure may not strengthen competition, but rather predatory behavior.

La vente à perte est un tabou français jamais remis en cause depuis cinquante ans. C’est une digue visant à protéger les petits acteurs contre les grandes surfaces, mais aussi à endiguer l’inflation. La fin de son interdiction risque de déstabiliser un marché au profit des plus gros. Depuis 1975, le nombre de stations a été divisé par quatre. Une station sur deux est désormais détenue par la grande ou moyenne distribution, ces dernières représentent 62 % des ventes. La vente à perte ne sera applicable que par certains géants de la grande distribution, difficile pour l’immense majorité et impossible pour des milliers de stations.

A lire aussi: TotalEnergies, Intermarché, and Casino: oil company and retailers take action in response to the surge in fuel prices.

Out of the 10,000 French stations, 2,500 would be unable to sell at a loss without risking closure. This measure may not strengthen competition, but rather predatory practices. The ban aims to prevent predatory pricing that would harm smaller players. The social risk is significant, as it may lead to the creation of new areas without gas stations in rural zones. Unlike large retailers, fuel accounts for over 60% of the profits for independent operators who cannot offset the loss.

Piège. Evidemment, vendre à perte du carburant équivaut à augmenter les prix ailleurs, donc dans les rayons pour les grandes surfaces. En voulant endiguer une inflation énergétique, on relance une inflation alimentaire… Cette mesure s’apparente à un piège sans fin.

Such an incentive measure may not have the desired effect on fuel prices. Some giants may be able to « play the game, » but others will only engage in occasional, ineffective operations that create queues and localized shortages. In fact, some station representatives are already requesting public financial aid and unemployment benefits to compensate for future losses… Public money, therefore! Rendering the budget argument obsolete.

In 1992, the price of gasoline was 76 cents per liter, while diesel was 54 cents. It was a different world. The significant increase in pump prices can be attributed to the rise in oil prices and the burden of taxes. This peak, which is further exacerbated by taxes, is explained by the demand from Southeast Asia and the decrease in OPEC’s supply driven by Russia. Allowing selling at a loss carries too many financial, social, and political risks to be approved. How can we explain to the French government that it applies it to fuel but not to essential food items or the baguette, which are affected by inflation?

The only solution is to reduce taxes on fuel. Two hours away from Reims, in Luxembourg, the price of fuel at the pump is 30 cents lower. The government needs to have the courage to lower taxes (over 50% of the price of a liter is made up of taxes), especially the VAT on TICPE, an unfair tax on tax. Let’s bring our level of taxation down to that of our Luxembourgish or Spanish neighbors (10% less tax on 1 liter).

A lire aussi: TotalEnergies will maintain the maximum prices for diesel and gasoline.

Evidemment, alourdir l’impôt sur le carburant devra s’imposer pour garantir la transition énergétique. Mais pas avant une transition réussie et majoritaire vers l’électrique ainsi qu’une densification historique du réseau de transports en commun.
Choosing the path of reducing taxes must be accompanied by budgetary efforts. Reducing public spending should not be taboo. Let us protect hospitals, schools, essential services, and culture, but let us address budget anomalies. Social fraud is a promising area to explore, leading to billions of euros in savings. The same goes for the reorganization of the State. This is the path of courage and responsibility.

Ce cri d’alarme est celui d’un ami, d’un libéral, membre loyal, mais libre de la majorité présidentielle. Ecoutons les territoires, les classes populaires et moyennes qui étouffent sous la fiscalité française, quasi-championne en la matière des pays de l’OCDE, et l’inflation record. A leur angoisse, répondons non par une mesure anti-concurrentielle, mais par la liberté. Osons la liberté.

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