PARIS — The French government will give a €100 payment to citizens earning less than €2,000 per month after tax to help them deal with rising energy and fuel prices, the prime minister announced Thursday evening.
“We are opting for a kind of inflation-indemnity of €100 … which will be paid to French people — it’s a sort of a middle class-indemnity,” Jean Castex told TV station TF1.
The announcement comes as national EU leaders discuss the energy price crisis in Brussels this week. The topic of fuel prices is particularly sensitive in France, and helped spark the anti-government Yellow Jackets protests in 2018.
An estimated 38 million people will benefit from this money, including both independent and salaried workers, as well as farmers, the unemployed and pensioners, Castex said.
He added that the payments would be sent automatically either through paychecks or social security bodies, and that the full details of the measure will be released in the coming days. Most of the aid including for salaried workers is expected to be paid out between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Castex said.
Civil servants should receive their checks in January, while retirees will have to wait a little longer, he added.
Castex also did not rule out making such payments again in the future.
Opposition politicians were quick to label the measure as insufficient. The far-right National Rally’s Marine Le Pen said the payment will not “respond to the distress” of French people struggling to pay their bills and urged the government to lower the value-added tax for gas, electricity and fuel.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-wing France Unbowed movement, called for measures to address rising prices of essential goods.
Castex argued that in the past, tax cuts “didn’t work” as an immediate antidote to price spikes and are not targeted enough for those who need them the most.
He also said that a price cap for gas — which he had announced last month and was supposed to last until next April — will still be in force until the end of 2022, if needed.