Carburants : la possibilité de vente à perte sera effective à partir de « début décembre » ; des « mesures de compensation » pour les stations-service indépendantes

er décembre, mais ça dépendra du calendrier parlementaire », a précisé le ministre de l’Économie.

Elisabeth Borne has promised that distributors will be allowed to temporarily sell fuel at a loss, which will be effective from early December and will last for six months, according to the government’s proposal to parliamentarians, announced Bruno Le Maire on Monday, September 18. “I hope it will be on December 1st, but it depends on the parliamentary calendar,” added the Minister of“I cannot reword”

Sa précision arrive après l’annonce d’une telle possibilité samedi par la première ministre, dans un entretien au Parisien. Alors que la vente à perte est interdite par la loi depuis 1963, le gouvernement souhaite l’autoriser temporairement afin d’aider les Français à faire face à l’inflation qui perdure et se traduit par des prix du carburant qui remontent dans les stations-service.

“I cannot reword”me Borne, assurant qu’ainsi « chacun prend sa part ». « Il est normal de mettre à contribution les gros industriels », a-t-elle affirmé, tout en rappelant que « la responsabilité de l’Etat, c’est aussi de baisser son déficit et sa dette ». « Notre méthode, c’est d’engager tout le monde, l’ensemble des acteurs économiques, dans cette lutte contre l’inflation », a précisé Bruno Le Maire lundi, car « l’Etat ne peut pas porter à lui seul le coût de l’inflation, sinon ça va creuser les déficits ».

A presentation of the device will take place at the end of September.

The professional union Mobilians, representing 5,800 non-supermarket gas stations, announced that following an emergency meeting, the Ministry of Finance had committed to implementing “compensation measures” for independent gas stations. The Minister of Economy, the Minister of Energy Transition, and the Minister Delegate for SMEs, Trade, and Crafts have pledged to establish a “support plan for traditional gas stations,” which includes compensation measures, as stated in a press release by Mobilians, who expressed their satisfaction with their responsiveness.

Shortly before, Francis Pousse, president of the service station and new energy branch of Mobilians, expressed his outrage to Agence France-Presse: “My members rely on fuel sales for 40, 50%, or even more of their income, so if they sell at a loss, I give them three months [to close down].” He also expressed skepticism about the beneficial effect of this measure on the purchasing power of the French people, considering the rising food prices that he believes have a greater impact on their wallets.

The device will be presented in the council of ministers on September 27th, as stated by the government spokesperson’s office, Olivier Véran. It will be part of the legislation on commercial renegotiations between suppliers and industrial distributors. The delay in the implementation of the device, set by Bruno Le Maire on Monday, is due to the time it takes for the text to be adopted by the National Assembly and the Senate. For individuals, such a commercial operation could result in savings of “half a euro” per liter, estimated Mr. Véran when questioned on RTL on Sunday.

The price of unleaded gasoline 95 has increased by 8% over a period of two months.

The government continues to emphasize the external factors behind this increase that is hurting the wallets of the French. As of Friday, September 8th, the average price for a liter of unleaded 95 was 1.96 euros, an 8% increase over two months; and for diesel, it was 1.88 euros (+13%). To prevent the price of fuel from reaching 2 euros again, many distributors have been selling fuel at cost price in recent months. Most of them committed last week to continue these operations until the end of the year when they were summoned by the Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

If it has excluded a general discount at the pump, as it did in 2022, the government has been continuously making announcements and calling for “solidarity” from distributors and suppliers for weeks, in order to extend this type of operation. Last week, TotalEnergies, which manages a third of the nearly 11,000 service stations in France, responded by announcing the extension of the price cap for gasoline at 1.99 euros per liter in its stations, beyond the end of 2023.

Critiques des oppositions

The government’s announcement did not receive unanimous support from the political opposition either. The National Rally is opposed to the measure, according to Sébastien Chenu, the vice-president of the group in the Assembly, who was interviewed on Public Sénat on Monday morning. “This measure will lead to two things: big corporations will profit greatly and independent gas stations will close,” he said. “It’s just empty talk,” he added, emphasizing that “the problem lies in the profit margins of big corporations and the taxes [on fuel].” “We want a reduction in taxes,” he reiterated.

M. Bompard criticized the measure as a “joke” and stated that it benefits distributors more than households. He instead advocated for price controls at around 1.50 euros per liter. Eric Coquerel, the “insurgent” deputy and president of the finance committee, believes that this measure will disrupt the market in favor of large retailers. Marylise Léon, the general secretary of CFDT, responded on Monday that selling at a loss can address short-term issues but lacks targeting of specific households.

If the measure is approved by Parliament, the question will be to determine the number of gas stations that will use it, and to what extent the gap will widen between independent stations and large retailers. The latter have more means to lower costs. Moreover, they use gasoline as a promotional product to attract customers.

Le Monde avec AFP