Le Pen Puts Fuel-Tax Cut, Wind Crackdown at Heart of Energy Plan
As Europe suffers its worst energy crisis in a generation, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is proposing to subsidize consumption while further curtailing supply.
The 53 year-old nationalist is narrowly trailing President Emmanuel Macron in polls ahead of the April 24 runoff election. She has campaigned for months on a promise to boost voters’ purchasing power by cutting taxes on gasoline, heating oil, natural gas and electricity. This help for consumers sits alongside a crackdown on wind turbines, a windfall tax on some of the country’s largest energy companies and an exit from Europe’s electricity market.
While energy costs began rising last year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed them to the top of the political agenda as prices broke records. Those increases represent more than half of Europe’s inflation, costing households across the continent some 230 billion euros ($251 billion) this year.
Le Pen has cast herself as the protector of the poor, and her policies may prove to be effective at harnessing the pain of rising prices felt by households and motorists. Their concerns have been a powerful force in French politics, notably the “Yellow Vest” movement that disrupted the early years of Macron’s presidency.
Yet her plans would leave the country increasingly exposed to energy shortages over time, according to Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, the head of the Center for Energy & Climate at Institut Francais des Relations Internationales.
“It may please those who don’t like the sight of wind turbines,” Eyl-Mazzega said. “The power supply situation will deteriorate, and investors will shy away from France.”
The core of Le Pen’s pitch to voters is a 12-billion euro reduction in the value added tax on energy. She also promised to roll back 9 billion euros in levies on diesel and gasoline when she takes office if the price of oil is above $100 a barrel. Those giveaways would come on top of the 25 billion euros of aid to contain energy bills already being phased in by Macron.
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