July 01, 2020
Macron's executive - obstacle or enforcer?
There is already resistance building up inside the French government to the new green makeover bid by Emmanuel Macron. He embraced almost all of the 149 proposals from the citizen climate council, a forum of participative democracy Macron initiated after the gilets jaunes protests. Expect more reluctance to implementation to come forth. Could this give the president a reason to fire his prime minister? Or is this what the liberal version of Macron's green policies will look like?
Édouard Philippe has clearly retreated into the background in recent days. There has been no word from the prime minister after Macron's promise to spend €15bn on his green agenda, or his endorsement of the citizens' proposals. This may be a prelude for either Philippe's exit or a new definition of their working relationship. Will Philippe be ready to become the enforcer of Macron's green agenda despite his own reservations? The two met last night to talk about the basis of future cooperation between Elysée and Matignon. Macron may prefer the executive to figure out how to turn his promises into something concrete. For this role, Philippe's government has to play along. Listening to his finance minister on TV yesterday, the difficulties between Elysée and Matignon seem to increase the closer one examines those 149 concrete proposals.
Bruno Le Maire cautioned yesterday against prohibiting advertisement for polluting SUV cars, one of the proposals. He also spoke out against an outright ban on any further expansion of existing airports, suggesting instead the inclusion of environmental considerations into the cost/benefit analysis for the new terminal of the Paris CdG airport. Like Macron, he is clearly against a VAT increase to finance green measures.
There is some cherry-picking too. Le Maire is backing the proposal to shift freight transport from road onto rail and inland waterways. More detailed proposals will be worked out in the autumn, he promised. He is also in favour of more scrutiny of the most polluting industrial sites in France, and a moratorium on shopping centres. An order to allow a stop on shopping centres outside towns has been in place since 2019, though it has yet to be applied at the local level, Les Échos points out. So, will the new liberal-green agenda be constrained by economic and political realities? Macron's bid is to prove that a liberal green agenda is possible that delivers environmental results while supporting economic growth.