The spotlight will be on the Finance Committee on Thursday 30 June. From 10:30 a.m., the election for the presidency of the eight permanent committees of the National Assembly, including that of finance, will take place. Since 2007, under Nicolas Sarkozy, this has been the responsibility of a deputy who is a member of an opposition group. Article 39 of the Assembly’s rules of procedure does not provide that the post must go to the first opposition group: “Cannot be elected to the presidency of the Committee on Finance, General Economy and Budgetary Control a deputy belonging to a group that has declared itself to be in opposition”.

The 68 deputies of the Finance Committee will vote in a secret ballot. The ballot is decided by absolute and relative majority if two rounds are not enough. Several elected officials are candidates for the presidency: Jean-Philippe Tanguy for the National Rally (RN) and the Insoumis Eric Coquerel for the Nupes, the left alliance. At Les Républicains (LR), Véronique Louwagie expressed her interest in this position, as did Valérie Rabault on the Socialist Party (PS) side. But the latter would have finally given up competing, according to RTL, leaving Eric Coquerel the only candidate for the Nupes intergroup.

Traditionally, the majority does not participate in the vote for this commission, leaving the oppositions to organize themselves. Some macronists had raised the possibility of deciding between RN and the left, but, on LCI, Thursday June 23, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne rejected this idea. The Macronist majority would no doubt have liked to recover this strategic position, endowed with substantial powers, particularly in terms of control. The Finance Committee is one of the most powerful and prestigious in the Assembly: it examines all draft budgets before they are discussed and voted on in the Chamber.

Like the general rapporteur for the budget, who comes from the ranks of the majority, the chairman of the finance committee has specific powers. He has the possibility of accessing documents covered by tax secrecy. With a few reservations, however: this must be done within the framework of its law review and control missions, and it does not have the right to “violate” tax secrecy by revealing the information to which it would have had access, under penalties.

During the legislative campaign, the presidential majority raised the risk that LFI would use the chairmanship of the finance committee to reveal the tax situation of such and such a person. But in the eyes of Eric Coquerel, “this is fake news”. “Among some, there is a great fear of tax secrecy. The question is not to use the commission to go on a witch hunt but to work effectively to understand how and who avoids tax. One could imagine that like a commission of inquiry”, he said Friday, June 24 to L’Express.

Like other deputies, the chairman of the committee can also carry out “document and on-site checks” to request administrative documents from the ministries or departments of the State, under article 57 of the Organic Law. relating to finance laws (LOLF). He can therefore require the communication of any document to the administrations and inspections. He can also hear those he deems useful (without the possibility of derogating from it) and he can be assisted by the Court of Auditors and launch fact-finding missions, recalls the Hemicycle.

Another strategic issue is the control of the financial admissibility of parliamentary amendments: an amendment by a deputy must not create a burden on the state budget since the Constitution prohibits it, specifies the Hemicycle. This limitation evacuates any spendthrift amendment. The president of the commission therefore plays a decisive role and can quickly be accused of “censorship”.

In 2017, four candidates ran for the presidency of this commission: the now macronist Eric Woerth, then for LR, Charles de Courson for the center right, Valérie Rabault for the PS and Eric Coquerel for LFI. Eric Woerth had won in the third ballot, by a relative majority.