It is a new symbolic wallet, serving consumers. Less than a month after her departure from the Borne II government, Olivia Grégoire, the former Minister Delegate in charge of Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce, Crafts and Tourism, is back in government. And if she returns to her position as Deputy Minister for Business and Tourism, she now wears a new hat: that of Deputy Minister for Consumer Affairs. A political function that is now official, for one that already claimed to be at the service of consumers, particularly in the inflationary context that France is experiencing.
After the announcement of her appointment, the main interested party was quick to react, assuring that she would “continue, with Bruno Le Maire, to invest fully in (...) strengthening consumer rights ". Will this new title profoundly change the situation and offer new impetus to the policy pursued so far? When questioned, his office evokes a “real recognition on the part of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister of the work that Olivia Grégoire has been leading in the field of consumption for a year and a half”. And to cite: the implementation of the anti-inflation quarter, the launch of the Signal Conso app, better supervision of telephone canvassing, the highlighting of the minimum durability date and the decree on shrinkflation. “It was his request to have a change of title consistent with the scale of his portfolio,” specifies those around him.
And consumer associations are the first to rejoice. Because if consumption was already part of Olivia Grégoire's remit, as the UFC-Que Choisir association recalls, “the officialization in the ministerial title appears as a symbolic message of the importance of consumption, the last driver of French growth. Nevertheless, "the main thing lies in the actions and measures undertaken by the minister, and in particular the implementation of a law with structural measures making responsible consumption accessible to all, respectful of health, environmental and societal issues", wants to believe the institution, which asks the question: “There was no Consumer Law during the last mandate, will this deficiency be corrected?”.
"It's official. Consumerism was indeed in his mission letter, but not in his title. It’s a great step forward,” says Julie Vanhille. However, the general secretary of Adéic (Consumer Defense, Education and Information Association) now expects “a real defense of consumers”, allowing “all citizens to consume in complete safety, whether this whether health or financial.” Adéic also takes on another fight: that of the “defense of the National Institute of Consumption (INC) and its sustainability”. According to its representative, there is a “real social and societal issue of public service, so we are really waiting for funding from consumer associations to defend consumers, because all citizens are consumers”.
“Today, we launch a solemn appeal to support the INC, weakened by successive and significant reductions in state subsidies of more than 40% in 10 years,” we can read in a press release co-signed by around ten consumer associations including Adéic, the Secular and Citizen Union of Consumers (ULCC), the National Federation of Transport User Associations (Fnaut) and the Catholic Family Associations (CNAFC). Together, they therefore demand “a political decision and public funding allowing the pursuit and development of public service missions for all consumers and the sustainability of the functioning of consumer organizations”.
“The function entrusted to Olivia Grégoire is not new, the novelty lies in the fact that it is clearly formulated in the title of her office”, notes for its part the CNAFC, for which “this clearly marks the importance consumption in the current inflationary context. “From an associative point of view, the minister indicated that she was launching a reflection on the “consumer movement”. We had interesting contacts with his technical advisor to express our reiterated request to have the means to ensure our mission of representing consumers,” continues the collective of associations.
For Olivia Grégoire's office, it is also a matter of “not letting only the extremes take over this eminently political subject that is consumption”. “In the current context that you know, there are still a lot of fights to be fought and a lot of things to do. And this recognition of the work accomplished is a strong signal to continue working on all issues linked to consumption (...) to defend consumption that is both responsible but also at the right price,” we explain. An entire program.