Budget: the government suffers a first failure in the Assembly

Posted Oct 4, 2022, 7:24 PMUpdated Oct 4, 2022, 7:48 PM

First hiccup for the government on its budget texts. The Finance Committee of the National Assembly rejected this Tuesday the law of programming of the public finances of the executive. A severe warning for the presidential majority, as a particularly heated parliamentary debate on the draft budget for 2023 looms in the coming days.

In detail, 36 members of the committee therefore voted against this budget text, while 30 votes were in favor. All the oppositions present have united against this text, including the LR deputies. Some members of the majority hoped for at least one abstention from right-wing elected officials, but that was not the case.

Earlier in the session, the oppositions had also succeeded in obtaining the rejection of article 23 which sets a device for limiting the expenditure of local authorities. The financial situation of these communities promises to be a burning issue for parliamentary examination of the budget texts in the weeks to come.

Political problem

This public finance programming law (LPFP) aims to anchor France’s budgetary trajectory over the period 2022-2027. It was presented a few days ago by Bercy, at the same time as its finance bill (PLF) for 2023.

However, the legal status of these two texts differs, which poses a political problem for the government. Article 49-3 of the Constitution can only be used, in total, on one budget bill and only one other bill (or proposal) of law during a parliamentary session. The executive will therefore be able to use this weapon without problem for the PLF. On the other hand, the LPFP is not considered as an ordinary budgetary text by the Constitution.

If the rejection of the oppositions is confirmed in session next week, the executive would have to use the second 49.3 it has during a session to have this LPFP adopted. A totally improbable outcome, given the other legislative deadlines that await it.

Complicated debate

There is therefore a significant probability that this programming law will be rejected by the National Assembly. Last week, Pierre Moscovici had warned against such an outcome, pointing to legal risks. This Tuesday, Gabriel Attal, the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, went further: “the non-adoption of this text could lead to a delay, or even a non-allocation of the European funds that we receive within the framework of the European recovery plan”, explaining that a programming law was one of the prerequisites requested by the EU. A speech that ultimately failed to convince.

This first hitch augurs an extremely complicated debate for the government on its PLF for 2023. “The examination of the LPFP will allow us to judge the political climate”, warned a member of the majority a few days ago. The answer seems pretty clear at this point. In reaction to the rejection of the LPFP, Jean-René Cazeneuve, the general rapporteur for the budget wrote on Twitter: “Once again, the RN, LR, LFI, PS & EELV join forces to vote against a text of responsibility. […] The governing parties have lost their compass and their soul. Populists are rubbing their hands.

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