French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the French would face severe food and energy shortages at a cabinet meeting Wednesday as winter approaches and skyrocketing energy prices have crippled Europe’s economy.
Macron told the cabinet that “freedom has a cost,” referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine that has inflicted dire consequences on global food and energy prices, Reuters reported. The French government faces a decision to renew electricity and gas price caps that expire at the end of 2022, as winter looms, inflation soars and natural gas from Russia falls to a trickle, raising fears that Russia will shut off gas flows altogether.
“I believe that we are in the process of living through a tipping point or great upheaval. Firstly because we are living through… what could seem like the end of abundance,” Macron said, Barron’s reported.
“The battles we have to fight … will only be won through our efforts,” he added.
Europe’s economy is in freefall as the Euro dips below parity with the dollar, inflation soars across the continent and analysts predict a recession, Reuters reported. The price caps and additional tax cuts on fuel have tamed inflation in France relative to other European economies.
France’s July inflation numbers hit a record 6.1%, according to data from Trading Economics. The consumer price index, a measure comparing inflation in one country to that in other EU members, increased 6.8% year-on-year, the most ever.
However, Macron said state coffers could not sustain the measures for the long term, according to Reuters.
“There may be price increases,” government spokesman Olivier Veran said after the cabinet meeting, Reuters reported. He added that the government will roll out legislation to expand energy infrastructure and work on measures to ensure energy supply as Europe deals with extreme shortages.
Possible measures include implementing an “energy restraint plan” that outlines small steps people can take to reduce consumption, such as turning off lights when leaving the office, Veran told Reuters.
About 17% of France’s natural gas consumption is imported from Russia, less than some of France’s neighbors, Reuters reported. In July, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire suggested France will prepare for a total cutoff of Russian gas despite a lack of alternative sources, as France’s nuclear power reactors were inoperable due to maintenance issues.
The government may also consider reforming pension and unemployment benefits programs, according to Reuters.
Українки, Українці, іменем Франції в цей День Незалежності України Я передаю вам послання дружби.
Ukrainiennes, Ukrainiens, au nom de la France, en ce Jour de l'Indépendance de l'Ukraine, je tenais à vous adresser ce message d’amitié. pic.twitter.com/QhFZBphFQ1
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 24, 2022
Macron had promised to continue supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia “for the long term” despite its economic impact, Barron’s reported.
New aid commitments for Ukraine from EU countries dried up in July, although the amount actually disbursed from prior commitments increased, Newsweek reported.
Trade unions have called for strikes on Sept. 29 to advocate wage increases and protest the sacrifices that Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT union, said France’s poorest are not prepared to make, Barron’s reported.
The French government did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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