the retreat of the Assembly in five acts

In twenty-four hours, the members turned around on an amendment providing for the postponement to 2026 of the exclusion of palm oil from the list of biofuels.


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Back all. After the outcry sparked by a first vote favoring palm oil, the National Assembly has maintained its exclusion from the list of biofuels, which enjoy a tax advantage. A decision taken against the opinion of the executive, after twenty-four hours tense, both in the hemicycle in the government and on the side of associations. Franceinfo recalls this disagreement in five acts.

Act 1: a speeding vote, Thursday

“Who is for? Who is against? He is adopted.” In the midst of a review of the 2020 budget, this is how the Assembly voted on Thursday night for an amendment calling for the postponement to 2026 of the exclusion of palm oil from the list of biofuels. A surprising decision, while the Assembly last year voted to exclude palm oil from this favorable tax regime. In the amendment proposed Thursday, the signatory MPs – including elected MoDem, LREM and LR Bouches-du-Rhône – say they want “leave a sufficient transitional period of fiscal and regulatory stability to French economic actors, (…) in a timetable (Release) twice as fast as proposed by the European Union “.

Once in the hemicycle, the text receives a favorable opinion from the government and an unfavorable opinion from the general rapporteur, Joel Giraud (LREM). This opposition is the only one. Indeed, the text is not defended at the microphone in session and is not the subject of any debate before being voted, as shown in these images.

Act 2: the environmental associations are indignant

The vote is immediately denounced by the environmental associations as the result of a “shameless lobbying” of Total. In early July, the oil group began operating a biofuel refinery using palm oil at La Mède, near Marseille. France nature environment (FNE) denounces “blackmail for employment led by Total. At the end of October, Total's CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, defended in The JDD (subscribers article) : “We just want to be at the same level of competition as our European competitors who, unlike us, enjoy a tax advantage until 2030.” And in front of the deputies, he agitated, in case of cancellation of this tax benefit, the possibility ofto export all its production in Germany “, where the fiscal framework is differentreports The world (subscribers article).

The associations criticize the plant for promoting the “massive deforestation”, the use of palm oil in industry being accused of threatening the biodiversity of the world's tropical forests. “Every day, thousands of hectares are burned to grow these palms, deforesting much of Southeast Asia and Africa”, thus recalls FNE after the vote. “We ask that this be revoked today”, Complete with franceinfo Clara Jamart, Forest Campaign Manager at Greenpeace France.

Act 3: the hemicycle (and the majority) angry

This surprise vote also shocked many MPs, including the majority, when the government made the ecological transition a priority but supported the amendment. “This tax niche is an accomplice of an ecocide, we can not support that”, criticizes the former Minister of Environment Delphine Batho, alerting on the disappearance of orangutans. Other members denounce “a vote on the sly”. “The amendment has passed in two seconds” with “unfavorable opinion of the general rapporteur, favorable to the government, without any debate! It is a mistake to catch up at second reading”, says the “walker” Bénédicte Peyrol on Twitter. “Many did not even know what it was about”says another LREM MP.

More broadly, deputies such as Paris mayor Cédric Villani deplore that the majority sends “contradictory signals” on the protection of the environment. “It's a must to have a clear and firm attitude towards these major ecological issues”, he urges on LCI.

Several therefore call for a new election. Like Matthieu Orphelin (Libertés et Territoires), close to Nicolas Hulot, who asks “a new deliberation, (because) a setback would be unacceptable. “” We got fucked! (…) If the group asks me, I will ask a second deliberation “, Also says the rapporteur Joel Giraud in the night from Thursday to Friday.

Act 4: the government calls for a second vote

In the face of the outcry, “Emmanuel Macron annoyed with the vote of this amendment”, Explain The world. Friday, Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, so goes to the crenel to claim a second vote, “noting the lack of sufficient debate on such an important subject”even though the government was in favor of the amendment. This review “will allow parliamentarians to feed a debate at the height of the challenge”, justifies the entourage of the head of government.

Act 5: the amendment is canceled

After 24 hours of criticism, the deputies finally cancel, during a new deliberation, the effects of the vote of Thursday. Friday evening, the Assembly indeed rejects the amendment by an overwhelming majority (58 to 2). A half-round applauded by the ecologists. “I welcome the salutary vote of the deputies”commented Matthew Orphelin.

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