French Constitutional Council Strikes Down Bonus/Malus Law on Energy

French nuclear power facility outside of Paris. Photo: Gretchen Mahan for flickr

French nuclear power facility outside of Paris. Photo: Gretchen Mahan for flickr

On Friday, April 12, the French Constitutional Council struck down a new law proposing a bonus/malus tax on private citizens for energy consumption. The judges of the Council ruled the bill unconstitutional, citing that it did not uphold the country’s principle of equality.

The government-backed bill, introduced by MP François Brottes of Parti socialiste (PS), would have imposed a reward/penalty system for energy consumption for private households in order to encourage efficiency.

Simply put, homes that reduce their energy consumption would pay lower rates for their energy usage, while homes that did not would be fiscally penalized. The incentive scheme would have also considered the number of occupants living in the household, the geographical location, and the particular form of heating.

The Council rejected the law because the tax would only affect private citizens and not public companies, which is a violation of the equality principle because energy is a public resource. In addition, the judges argued that the bonus/malus system could not be applied to collective residences, as it would not encourage individual responsibility for energy consumption.

The law is part of President Hollande’s program to move France towards clean energy usage. He aims to encourage the growth of renewable energy sources and efficient use in the household through legislation initiatives. However, as Energy Minister Delphine Batho expressed, the government will need to find other ways to control energy consumption.

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