French lawmakers pass bill to help voters cope with soaring prices

A customer pays in euro with a banknote in Nice, France.

The French government made a significant step towards fulfilling a key reelection promise to increase household purchasing power in the face of rising inflation. Friday's National Assembly bill lifted pensions and temporarily frozen rent increases.

The Senate will next receive the bill, which is the upper house dominated largely by the conservative Les Republicains, as a test of President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to compromise across party lines.

Draft law includes pay increases for public sector workers, food inspections and a mechanism that allows companies to pay higher tax-free bonuses to employees. Budget costs are estimated to be around €20 billion (or $20.37bn).

After his first term, Macron made it a key promise to help the French deal with an increased cost of living. This was mainly due to soaring energy costs after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Inflation in France was 6.5% last month, which is the same as other countries of the eurozone.

After heated debates, politicians from the Nupes alliance (the largest opposition bloc) criticized the government for not taking enough measures.

The bill received 341 votes, and 116 against. It was supported by Les Republicains, the far-right Rassemblement National and Les Republicains. Nupes legislators did not vote for it.

($1 = €0.9820)


Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau. Writing by Tassilo Hmel. Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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