The privatization of the highways of 2006 continues to pursue Bruno Le Maire
A “french fantasy”. This is how the entourage of Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, speaks of motorways, ironically on this idea installed in the opinion according to which the privatization, recorded in 2005, would have been a bad deal for the State, while the motorway companies would be sitting on a gold mine. It is difficult to correct this narrative: every three or four years, a parliamentary commission of inquiry, a report from the Competition Authority or the Court of Auditors comes to put a piece in the machine, with critical conclusions on the operation for the state.
The latest report from the Inspectorate General of Finance on the subject, of which The chained Duck revealed the conclusions at the start of the year, also makes a bitter observation: emphasizing the profitability “far above expected” investment for two motorway companies, he notes that the State, corseted by the concession contracts concluded in 2006, has little or no room for manoeuvre.
For nearly twenty years, the question of the privatization of motorways has haunted and divided the political world, and continues to find a strong echo in public opinion. Entire barriers were thus set on fire, during the winter of 2018, by the “yellow vests”, who protested against too high tolls, seen as the symbol of an abandonment of its heritage by the State to the detriment of the middle classes. Sign of the sensitivity of the subject, during the presidential campaign of 2022, Marine Le Pen, candidate of the National Rally, like Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate of La France insoumise (LFI), promised to renationalize them.
Position more uncomfortable than for others
It is inflation and purchasing power that have reopened the very sensitive question of motorways, against the backdrop of the taxation of superprofits, while public finances are strained by two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. 19 and energy crisis. “The motorways are perceived as a national heritage that generations of French people had helped finance and that we would have ‘sold off’ to the private sector.deciphers Jérôme Fourquet, director at the IFOP. Added to this is the feeling that they have become a cash cow for motorway companies, to the detriment of motorists. »
In this context, Bruno Le Maire will be heard at the National Assembly, Wednesday March 22, by the Finance Committee and the Committee for Sustainable Development and Regional Planning, with the Minister Delegate for Transport, Clément Beaune. The subject is a little more uncomfortable for him than for others: the former candidate for the primary of the right was an adviser to Dominique de Villepin at Matignon, in 2005, when the privatization was decided, then became his director of office the following year.
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