the French do not want their money to finance defense

The government’s 2024 budget plans to partly finance defense industry companies with money from Livret A, LDDS and LEP. According to a survey carried out by the YouGov institute for MoneyVox, 54% of people questioned are not in favor of this idea, like the Minister of the Economy Bruno le Maire.

This is a new development that is far from unanimous. As part of the 2024 finance bill adopted without a vote by the National Assembly on first reading, following recourse to article 49.3 of the Constitution by the Prime Minister, it is planned that savings placed in the Livret A, the sustainable and solidarity development booklet (LDDS) and the popular savings booklet (LEP) can also be directed towards SMEs in the defense industry.

According to a survey (1) realized by the YouGov institute for MoneyVox, 54% of French people are not in favor of this measure. A percentage that climbs to 58% among women, compared to 49% for men. Ultimately, barely a third of those questioned (29%) are in favor of using part of regulated savings to support defense.

Results which do not surprise economist Philippe Crevel: The Livret A is a symbol, a totem in France. It is associated with social housing, its main purpose. Any modification of this savings product creates suspicion. And financing the weapon is not a positive value in itself like social housing is. It is not certain that this fits into the philosophy of Booklet A.

Booklet A resources are coveted

Asked about the sectors of general interest that Livret A would be likely to finance, respondents above all preferred that this money benefit the public hospital (61% approval), the school (43%), the police (21%). %), dependence (20%) or even culture (18%).

Booklet A resources are coveted. Requests were made so that they could finance the construction program of French nuclear power plants and the energy transition, recalls Philippe Crevel. According to a previous survey carried out by YouGov for MoneyVox, the financing of nuclear power was far from unanimous among the French, even if the approval rate was higher (45%).

Today, around 60% of the more than 500 billion euros in regulated savings are centralized within the Caisse des Dépôts Savings Fund, which notably finances loans intended for the construction of social housing. But 40% of the outstanding amount is kept by the banks which distribute the regulated products.

A windfall valued at 225 billion euros at the end of 2022 and which banks must distribute in the form of loans to support the creation and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the financing of projects contributing to the energy transition or even the social and economic economy. united. And soon, perhaps, the financing of the national defense industry.

Concretely, the amendment carried by 3 deputies, including the president of the defense committee of the National Assembly, Thomas Gassilloud, intends to facilitate the financing of companies, particularly small and medium-sized, [la] Defense Industrial and Technological Base (BITD) which are increasingly facing difficulties in accessing private financing.

Livret A: this is how the banks and the State distribute your money

Bruno Le Maire not in favor either

An argument which therefore does not convince a majority of French people, any more than the Minister of the Economy. Livret A, for me, is social housing and it must remain so. I fought for the LDDS to exclusively serve green investments and I hope that this is the case, explained Bruno Le Maire last week on France Info.

The idea of ​​financing defense with money from Livret A also raises questions for Philippe Crevel: This transformation of short-term savings into long-term resources, loans of 30 to 50 years, is a French specificity which is not without defect. Financial institutions must always have sufficient liquidity to meet withdrawal requests from households.

We can find other ways to finance the defense forces, believes Bruno Le Maire. He also hopes that this proposal will be put aside by parliamentarians before the final adoption, by the end of December, of the 2024 finance bill.

This summer, senators had precisely proposed the creation of a sovereign savings account to finance defense companies within the framework of the military programming law (LPM). A solution ultimately erased in favor of recourse to money from Livret A. But this provision was then challenged by the Constitutional Council as a legislative rider. He then considered that the measure had no place in a military programming law.

(1) The survey was carried out on 1055 people representative of the French national population aged 18 and over. The survey was carried out online, on the YouGov France proprietary panel from November 28 to 29, 2023.

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