BREAD ON THE BOARD: The executive has announced new measures to support businesses in difficulty, but the opposition accuses the government of “letting bakers die”
- Many bakers have denounced in recent weeks soaring prices, and in particular the increase in their energy bills, which threaten them with bankruptcy.
- Faced with anger, the government announced several aids which, according to him, would make it possible to absorb “up to 40%” of the bills.
- The opposition did not wait long to seize on the crisis and criticized the lack of anticipation of the president and his ministers.
Fight around the stick. Many bakers have denounced the unprecedented increase in their energy bills in recent weeks, which threatens them with bankruptcy. To appease the anger, the government announced support measures at the start of the week, while Emmanuel Macron will receive a few artisans this Thursday during the traditional ceremony of the galette des rois at the Elysée. But the opposition, led by the Rassemblement National, accuses the government of “letting the profession die”.
A mobilization in Paris at the end of January
Affected for several months by the rise in the price of butter or flour, these craftsmen are today hit hard by the explosion of their gas and electricity bills, sometimes multiplied by ten since the autumn. Several bakers have already been forced to close shop, like Julien Bernard-Regnard, in Bourgaltroff (Moselle), on December 3. The latter claims to have seen his monthly electricity bill from TotalEnergies jump from nearly 400 euros to 1,500 euros. “I was light years away from thinking that an energy bill could make me close my business and stop my life here. There are bakeries that close every day,” he told AFP.
According to their confederation, 80% of them are not eligible for the tariff shield and for many, the support measures put in place by the government – such as the help desk for the payment of electricity bills or the “shock absorber electricity” – are insufficient. Calls for help, which have multiplied in the media, have also been widely relayed on social networks. Several collectives also indicated that they would participate in a major demonstration organized on January 23rd in Paris.
The government tries to react
To clear the land, the government went to the front all week. On Tuesday, Elisabeth Borne announced that SMEs (and in particular the 33,000 bakers in France) will be able to “request the postponement of the payment of their taxes and social security contributions” in order to relieve their cash flow. The Prime Minister also wants small traders to be able to spread out the payment of bills. At the same time, Bruno Le Maire put pressure on energy suppliers so that bakers could renegotiate their contracts without penalty.
“The government continues to put in place aid and protection measures, as we have always done in this energy and inflation crisis”, defends Priscia Thevenot, deputy for Hauts-de-Seine. This set of aids would, according to the executive, cover “up to 40%” of the bills. “The problem is that too few companies eligible for aid are asking for it, continues the Renaissance spokesperson. In this distressing context, it is sometimes difficult to navigate. This is why we must continue the pedagogy”. The Minister of the Economy has, moreover, swept away the hypothesis of an explosion of bankruptcies, evoking rather “a few hundred bakers in real difficulty”.
The bakers coveted by the opposition
But the executive has been strongly criticized by the opposition. “With its announcement effects, the government did not take into account the gravity of the situation. Emmanuel Macron cannot rejoice in the inclusion of the baguette as a UNESCO heritage site and at the same time let our bakers die,” tackles Gilles Pennelle, director general of the National Rally. Very active, the RN wants to make this crisis “a symbol” of the supposed disconnection of the macronists. President Jordan Bardella, who will be travelling on the subject this Thursday in the Marne, sent a letter to bakers on Twitter on Tuesday to defend in particular the exit from the European energy market.
But the left and the right have also stepped up in recent hours. “Disconnection is the hallmark of this government! They do not know how to anticipate, give the feeling of being deaf and leave the French in anguish”, lambasted this Wednesday on Twitter, the president of Hauts-de-France Xavier Bertrand .
In the context of inflation, this battle around bakeries is not insignificant. Politicians are well aware that they occupy a very special place in French society and can sometimes turn into relays of opinion. Bruno Le Maire himself was recognized this Monday in the Daily program on TMC. “The baker is our daily life. It is the only local shop in municipalities where there are 200, 250, and 600 inhabitants. »