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Energy prices: the new government plan to help businesses

It is a set of measures which represents a total effort of 12 billion euros.

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Energy prices: the new government plan to help businesses

It is a set of measures which represents a total effort of 12 billion euros. Elisabeth Borne announced this Thursday, October 27 three new measures with the aim of containing energy prices for businesses and communities, during a press conference organized in Matignon, in the presence of the Minister of Economy and Finances Bruno Le Maire, the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher and the Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Christophe Béchu.

The first, called "electricity shock absorber", will aim to cover part of the electricity bill for "VSEs that do not benefit from the tariff shield, SMEs, associations, local authorities and public establishments". This "electricity damper", which will be implemented from January 1, 2023, "will make it possible to reduce the electricity bill by 120 euros per megawatt hour on average", specified Bruno Le Maire. The relief "will be automatically and directly deducted from the company's invoice", he added.

The government will also "simplify and amplify the targeted aid, already in force for companies". "The counter aid will be open to companies not affected by the electricity shock absorber. For gas, the counter will continue to concern all companies", declared the Prime Minister. This targeted aid therefore concerns large companies and medium-sized companies (ETI). They will be able to have access to a one-stop shop, simplified, from November 15, and the amount of aid will be decided "according to their financial situations", specified Bruno Le Maire. The previous counter set up for companies "was too complex and ineffective", noted the Minister of Economy and Finance. “So we simplified the criteria.”

Finally, with regard to communities, the executive will present an amendment to the finance bill providing for "the extension and amplification of the safety net for the year 2023", announced Elisabeth Borne.

The government seeks above all to obtain a structural reduction in energy prices on a European scale, but the Prime Minister specified that it was "essential to give visibility to all the players". “Our businesses and our communities could not wait,” she added.

For several weeks, employers' organizations have been calling for new aid in the face of skyrocketing energy bills and criteria that are too complex to obtain the aid that already exists. This new aid will not widen the deficit, according to Elisabeth Borne. Of the 12 billion euros announced, 7 billion in particular will come from "annuities" deducted from energy companies within the framework of an exceptional tax, and 3 billion will also come from an envelope already provisioned for existing aid and which has been very little used. Finally, the remaining 1.5 billion euros have been budgeted for the safety net intended for local authorities. “All aid for businesses is financed and this aid will therefore not worsen the deficit and the debt”, also specified Bruno Le Maire.

“We have been there for businesses in the previous five-year term and we will continue to be there for businesses, large and small, who are faced with rising gas and electricity prices,” he said. . "We know that the situation is distressing for companies, with a bill multiplied by two, five or even ten", continued the minister, before emphasizing: "It is essential to support them to prevent us from losing our industrial base." "In the long term, the only real answer is to produce more electricity and consume less energy. The other structural answer is the reform of the European energy market", also affirmed Bruno Le Mayor.

In addition, the State has decided to lower to 100 terawatt hours (TWh) the volume of nuclear electricity that EDF will have to sell at low prices to its competitors in 2023, i.e. around a third of its production, Bruno announced on Thursday. Le Maire, a measure in favor of the heavily indebted French electricity giant.

"It is consistent with the commitments we have made," said the Minister of the Economy, announcing this measure on the Arenh (regulated access to historical nuclear electricity), a mechanism which obliges EDF to sell an annual quota of cheap nuclear electricity to its competitors. This cap was 100 TWh in 2021 and had been raised to 120 TWh this year to help contain rising electricity prices on bills.

A few weeks before its complete renationalisation and at the start of a complicated winter, EDF announced on Thursday a further increase in the financial impact of its drop in nuclear production this year. The group estimates that the record drop in its electricity production will now weigh 32 billion euros on its gross operating surplus (Ebitda), an accounting indicator of profitability, instead of the 29 billion euros announced in September, and 24 billion in July.

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