Pour face face à “The first emergency of the French”the government promises to strike fast and hard. “Emergency laws for purchasing power will be the first texts of this five-year period”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on May 27. The outlines of these measures will be unveiled in the Council of Ministers within a week, before a full presentation on June 29, the government spokeswoman said on Monday, May 30, in Le Parisien (paying article).
One of the measures prepared by the executive is a food check, intended for modest households affected by rising food prices. A novelty? Not so much that. This project, which has been going on for a year and a half, has long been dusted off in government boxes, before resurfacing in a context of rising inflation. Franceinfo tells you about the difficult gestation of this check, which has yet to be issued.
1June 2020: The Citizens’ Climate Convention proposes this idea
Remember the summer of 2020. After nine months of work, on June 21, the members of the Citizens’ Climate Convention (CCC) adopted a series of 149 proposals to reduce France’s greenhouse gas emissions. Shaken by the crisis of the “yellow vests”, Emmanuel Macron had a watchword: the “social justice”. Message received. Pour encourage consumers to buy “Often sustainable products”one of the measures adopted is to “Replace food vouchers for the poorest”.
Citizens want these checks to be usable “for organic products” egg “in the Amap”, associations promoting short circuits. Moreover, the anticipation of legal obstacles is proposed in a broader definition and includes various terms such as “Red Label”, “High environmental value”, “Sustainable fishing” or “Farm product”.
Logistically, the distribution of these checks would be entrusted to the communal centers for social action (CCAS). “In some municipalities, they are already in charge of distributing food vouchers, similar to restaurant tickets, which allow shopping in social grocery stores or partner shops”praises the Citizens’ Convention on Climate Change.
2June to December 2020: Emmanuel Macron promises to make it happen
A few days later, on June 29, Emmanuel Macron pledged to submit almost all of the CCC’s proposals to the government or parliament. In front of the citizens gathered in the gardens of the Elysée, he cites a few “Strong sentences” that he wishes “see you all again”to begin with “Food checks, to allow the most modest to buy quality products”.
In the torpor of summer, the idea makes its way, but in the fall, radio silence from the executive. The measure does not appear in the stimulus plan or in the Finance Bill 2021. In December, the case appears to have been heard. Considered too costly in ministerial arbitrations, the food check is no longer relevant, much to the chagrin of the Citizens’ Climate Convention. One of the participants then holds the head of state accountable.
“We do not understand the categorical refusal of the Ministry of Agriculture to replace food checks for organic and local products.”A member of the Citizens’ Convention on Climate Change
during a meeting with Emmanuel Macron on December 14th
Answer from the head of state, who takes everyone by surprise: “I agree with the food check, so we have to do it. You’re right.” Applause in the hall.
As soon as the presidential green light is on, the majority is in order to make the project a reality. A working group of about ten members has been set up and a note has been sent to the government. Targeted priority products: organic or labeled fruits and vegetables, local and seasonal. Amount: between 30 and 60 euros per month per family. The check then targets the “Precarious populations” but also the general public, for example in the case of support through their company, as for restaurant or holiday checks, reports L’Opinion (paying article).
3February to August 2021: the measure is included in the Climate Act, without being implemented
Yet in early February, no trace of the device in the initial version of the government’s Climate Bill. In March, LREM MP Mounir Mahjoubi asked the government “to commit” on the subject and passed an amendment. “The sustainable food check is for now”, wants to believe the elected official. the defendant’s son “attachment” to the extent, Julien Denormandie, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, assures him that the work is progressing.
“The criteria are being finalized and the government is being defined.”Julien Denormandie, Minister of Agriculture and Food
in the National Assembly
The Climate and Resilience Act was enacted in August with an amendment by Mounir Mahjoubi. Article 259, which is very timid, only provides for the submission of two reports to Parliament, by October and February, without the obligation to introduce the famous “sustainable food check”. Ecological deputies often denounce in vain what they lack: “In the face of a climate emergency, the time must be for action and decision, not for reporting to the government.”
4Late 2021: Bercy cuts and the measure is abandoned again
At the end of the year, after hearings conducted by the Ministries of Food, Solidarity and Finance, the “sustainable food check” disappeared again. “We were interviewed in the fall and then we were told that there would be only one report out of the two planned. In the end, neither was released.”, deplores the federation of food banks with franceinfo. The association is now asking the executive to disclose the findings of this inspection “Before the legislature”.
Why such a funeral? “In the finance law, end of 2021, Bercy did not want to give a budget to the food check, preferring to consolidate aid to charities”responds the FNSEA, the main agricultural union, which has long advocated for such a device.
“There was an arbitration by Bruno Le Maire unfavorable to the food check.”Yannick Fialip, chairman of the FNSEA Economic Committee
“It’s very complicated to set up, I can’t hide it from you”had warned the Minister of Economy and Finance, pe BFMTV, in September, anxious “Make sure our public finances are well-kept and that the money goes to those who really need it”.
5March and April 2022: the promise resurfaces in the middle of the election campaign
On March 7, in Poissy (Yvelines), during his inaugural outing as a declared candidate for his succession, Emmanuel Macron unveiled his first proposals.
“This is the candidate who is talking to you: we are going to set up the food check. (…) The president would have wanted to do that. There has been a lot of resistance and it has been complicated.”Emmanuel Macron, candidate for succession to the Elysée
during a meeting with the inhabitants of Poissy
What shape will the device take this time? Joker. On March 22, the president merely defended a measure aimed at “the most modest households and [aux] middle class “to encourage them “To buy on the court circuit and to buy French”. A month later, before the second round, Julien Denormandie was just as evasive as a year earlier. “The principle is arbitrary, we are in the technical details”eludes, evoking a potential target of eight million beneficiaries and an implementation “About the election, the current year 2022”.
6May and June 2022: the check should finally open but “nothing is done”
At the time of the arbitrations, before the presentation of the draft law on purchasing power, “nothing is ruled out”LREM MP Gregory Besson-Moreau told franceinfo “Work on the topic with the president and his teams”. “Inflation linked to the Russo-Ukrainian war is turning upside down, and we need to react very quickly.he advances. It could also have an emergency measure, and more targeted measures behind it. Nothing is done. “
Before leaving Matignon, Jean Castex also did not rule out reducing the ecological ambition of the device.
“The option is for this food check to become a purchasing power check.”Jean Castex, Prime Minister
to AFP on April 15
Behind the scenes, industry players are trying to influence the food basket affected by the future check. The Agricultural Cooperation, the lobby of the cooperatives, and the FNSEA are campaigning for the inclusion of all “Quality and local food products of animal and vegetable origin”, includes excluding fresh products and without organic label. An amount includes 90 and 150 euros per month per household is advanced.
The retail sector is advocating for grocery, dairy and even hygiene shelves, far from the original vocation of the food check. For the E.Leclerc group, “social emergency” must take precedence over the goal of “To change the diet of the French”.
“The problem with this check is that it sounds simple, but everyone puts it behind their goals.” notice Barbara Mauvilain, in charge of institutional relations within the Food Banks. So the time has come for the government to clarify its line.