Bercy puts pressure on the energy companies that "do not play the game"

Bercy puts pressure on the energy companies that “do not play the game”

TotalEnergies, EDF, Engie and others are singled out by the French state. And they will be called to order next week. The Government intends to summon energy providers on Wednesday, accused of “not playing enough” by inflating the prices offered to SMEs, after a first agreement in Brussels to reduce bills in the face of soaring inflation.

“I think today (energy providers) don’t play enough with their customers, especially SMEs,” Bruno Le Maire said on Friday. That is why “we will meet, with Agnès Pannier-Runacher, next Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., all energy companies to ask them to sign a code of conduct”, continued the minister in Europe 1.

Towards “reasonable” prices

The objective of the invitation to Bercy: to guarantee “reasonable prices”, in particular to SMEs, thanks to additional commitments from suppliers. The ministry wants to create conditions of “better quality” and “more protection” for “communities and companies” acting “at the national level” in addition to the ongoing negotiations at the European level, explained the Minister for the Energy Transition in Brussels. .

In a “letter”, the companies will commit to “provide all French SMEs with reasonable rates for electricity and energy, within a reasonable time, with reasonable conditions” with, in particular, “the possibility of review” if prices are falling according to Bruno. Le Maire. He also insisted on “the possibility of the company examining the contract without having the knife down their throat.”

The Delegate Minister for SMEs, Olivia Grégoire, who was traveling to Lyon on Friday, said that she wanted to ask energy providers during the meeting to give VSE-SMEs a deadline so that they can pay their bills within “three to next six months.” These are “devices that we had put in during the health crisis” and that can be put back in, she stressed. In Brussels, the energy ministers agreed this Friday on measures consisting of recovering part of the “super profits” from energy producers to redistribute them to the consumer, and reducing the demand for electricity during peak hours.

“Is not acceptable”

While the price rise caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine slowed in France in September to 5.6%, inflation remains high. This fall is also due to the “slowdown” in the rise in energy prices, which follows in the footsteps of oil prices, hampered by fears of recession, explains the National Statistics Institute Insee in a press release. But economists see it as a simulated effect with the expected drop in fuel price cuts.

The European business association BusinessEurope had warned on Thursday that the high prices of gas and electricity in Europe posed an “imminent risk” of “production losses” and “closures of thousands of European companies.” In particular, the French agri-food industry has warned about the risk of production stoppages in the absence of measures against price increases.

In question: Some energy providers offer SMEs “prices of around 600 or 700 euros per megawatt hour, where energy providers anticipate a price of 200 to 300 euros”, accused Bruno Le Maire on Friday. “This is not acceptable,” he criticized.

Households and smaller companies that can access regulated rates are covered by the “rate shield”, extended until 2023 and which limits the increase in electricity and gas rates to 15%. “If you find yourself in the situation in which you have to sign a new energy contract” and that “presents an incomprehensible increase, I repeat, do not sign,” emphasizes Olivia Grégoire.

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