The Elders ruled on Tuesday that the Nupes bill to tax the windfall profits of large companies did not meet “the constitutional and organic conditions” required to be the subject of a shared initiative referendum (RIP).
They thus cut short the wish of the left alliance (LFI, PS, PCF and EELV) to be able to submit to a citizen consultation their text, presented a month ago and signed by 240 parliamentarians, aimed at taxing “profiteers of crisis”.
In the sights of the Nupes: large companies with a turnover of more than 750 million euros and profits more than 25% higher than the average of those made between 2017 and 2019, which would be taxed from 20% to 33% until the end of 2025.
But the decision rendered on Tuesday puts an end to the hope of a referendum on this measure, without even going to the next stage of the RIP procedure, which would have paved the way for the collection of support. Five million signatures would then have been required to open the possibility of a referendum.
According to the Constitutional Council, the proposed text does not correspond to the category of texts that can be the subject of this procedure, under the terms of the Constitution. It “limits itself to increasing the level of existing taxation of the profits of certain companies”, he observes, whereas it should have been “a reform relating to the economic policy of the Nation” to meet the conditions.
– The “well-protected” pension –
“We take note with disappointment” of this decision, reacted in the evening Boris Vallaud, leader of the Socialist deputies, who had been at the origin of the initiative, taken up and supported by all the Nupes.
“The fight for a measure of tax justice, expected of the French and French, continues in Parliament,” he assured.
“I do not understand” the decision of the Constitutional Council, said his side the deputy Insoumis Eric Coquerel. “Between the impediment of the RIP and the 49-3 which deprives us of putting it to the vote, the capitalist rent is well protected”.
The taxation of “superprofits” was announced as one of the hot points of the debates in the Assembly around the finance bill for 2023. And the Nupes had prepared an amendment containing its tax proposal.
But the government drew the constitutional weapon of 49.3 last week before the deputies could debate it in the hemicycle.
“We will not be silent”, assured AFP the N.1 of the PS Olivier Faure, wishing that the subject be debated in the Senate and suggesting to be able to “impose the debate” via the days during which the opposition deputies can set the agenda.
The presidential camp believes that it has already taken the measure of the subject of the exceptional profits of certain companies in its draft budget, by transposing the fruit of an agreement concluded at the end of September between countries of the European Union.
On the one hand, it provides for “a temporary solidarity contribution”, for one year only, from producers and distributors of gas, coal and oil. It is set at 33% of the profits for 2022 which are more than 20% higher than the average of those made in 2019-2021.
A second component, with greater financial stakes, provides for a cap on the income of electricity producers, which have taken off solely because of the link with gas and coal prices. Revenue above the cap may be collected to support consumers.
But these measures are not up to scratch, according to the left, which does not want to be content with targeting energy companies and demands that all economic players making exceptional profits be targeted, and not only in 2023.
The left is convinced that the majority of French people are in favor of increased taxation of “superprofits”, after the excitement caused by the impressive results of large groups such as TotalEnergies, Sanofi or the shipowner CMA CGM, in the midst of a crisis and purchasing power at half mast.