French must gear up for ‘contained increase’ in energy bills, says finance minister

The French economy and finance minister on Monday warned of “contained increases” in electricity and gas prices for households at the start of 2023 as the state alone cannot bear the responsibility of inflation in energy bills through billion-euro price caps.

“When the price of electricity or gas has risen by almost 170% in the past few months, it would be completely irresponsible to put the burden of these increases solely on the state budget,” Bruno Le Maire told a morning show at LCI News.

He reiterated that the government policy is to pass on only a certain number of increases in electricity and gas prices as of 2023 to the households.

Last month, spokesperson Olivier Veran indicated that the government cannot hold on to billion-euro energy price caps to help households cope with soaring inflation forever.

Currently, the government has put in place a tariff shield to curb the hike in energy prices from passing on to individuals.

Without the protective tariff, households would face “unbearable prices” that could range in the electricity bill to at least €120 per month per household and €180 for gas prices, the finance minister said.

The protective measure was initially to expire on Dec. 31, but will now continue in 2023 for fewer beneficiaries.

According to the proposed strategy, the government next year will continue with “energy vouchers” or subsidies in a more targeted way to support the vulnerable population, Le Maire added.