© Unsplash/Engin Akyurt
He had already said it on October 6: Patrick Pouyané, CEO of TotalEnergies, threatens to stop capping the price of gasoline at €1.99 per liter if the solidarity contribution is extended to 2024. This tax, which targets refineries, has existed since 2022 in France.
It transposes a European regulation resulting from the energy crisis and the outbreak of war in Ukraine. But the problem is that it ultimately brings in a sum that could be considered derisory given the stakes (around 100 million euros in 2023, very far from the 16.8 billion euros). #8217;euros derived from the tax on petroleum products (TICPE)) while having a very severe impact on refining activity.
TotalEnergies threatens to stop the capping if the PLF continues to tax refineries
Because as a result of this tax, inflation and the increase in logistics costs, the sector doubled its gross margin, going from €64 per tonne to €121 in August. This potentially translates into an increase in the price of a liter of more than 10 cents according to the consumer association CLCV. Costs that Total assumes because of its capping of the price per liter at €1.99.
However, on the side of the national assembly, many are those who favor an extension of this levy. And the fact that the government seemed in favor of it visibly aroused the ire of TotalEnergies, whileon top of that, the price of a barrel continues to increase(it is at €90.44 at the time of writing).
Faced with the prospect of a unilateral end to the “gesture” of TotalEnergies, the government seems to be giving in on the subject. After congratulating Total for the cap, the Minister of the Economy, who was the guest of Sud Radio this morning, declared: “the tax on refining? We will see the parliamentary debate, but generally, I don't really like taxes“.
And the minister added  ;: “I would also like to remind you that the tax on refining does not appear in the government's initial budget”. However, it still remains possible to subsequently introduce it into the 2024 PLF if parliamentarians validate the amendment. Which would therefore result, if TotalEnergies carried out its threat, in a return of prices without the slightest ceiling from the vote on the amendment or the start of 2024.
A perspective that seems quite unproductive from the outset: if this tax produces as collateral damage the opposite of what it is supposed to produce, we can indeed wonder why hold on to it. In this case, however, the government should inform its European partners and negotiate with Brussels.
Or possibly be subject to an infringement procedure from the Commission which could refer the matter to the CJEU. Leading in the event of a judgment unfavorable to France to a fine. Debates on this tax are still ongoing in the Assembly, and whether or not it will be maintained in 2024 now seems to be suspended from parliamentary debates on the subject.
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