France's economy is undergoing quite an interesting reshuffle. Bruno Le Maire has been increasing his prerogatives and Bercy's prerogatives for a while now, and on Thursday he got the lavish energy portfolio. Here's a short explanation of how France's economy and energy have changed hands.
After leaving François Fillon's campaign and voting for Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the presidential election, Bruno Le Maire was rewarded by becoming the new president's first economy minister. The management of affairs and public accounts was entrusted to another right-wing defector, Gérald Darmanin.
According to the decree then published in the Journal Officiel (JO), he is responsible, among other things, for "monitoring and supporting tourism activities", but "without prejudice to the powers of the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs".
After the June 2017 legislative elections, finance was added to the portfolio of Bruno Le Maire, the eighth most senior minister in the government.
At the beginning of 2020, Covid-19 came on the scene. After more than two years of reducing France's public deficit, Bruno Le Maire became "the man who will do everything possible" to support households and businesses.
In July, Bruno Le Maire was reappointed as Bersih, while heading the Public Accounts Department, and given a new task: revitalizing the French economy after a fall of almost 8% of GDP in 2020.
At a time when the health crisis has exposed France's reliance on imports of masks and other screening tests, Bercy must now ensure that "critical values and supply chains are strengthened."
Although it is believed that Bruno Le Maire is set to become Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron decides to appoint Elisabeth Borne as Matignon after his re-election. Mr. Le Maire, however, remains in Bercy and rises above.
His powers have not changed significantly, but his title has been lengthened: he is now Minister of Economy, Finance, Industrial and Digital Sovereignty.
Bruno Le Maire defends his positions, notably by promoting the law on green industry and regularly expressing his opinion on generative artificial intelligence, whose development he wants to support at national and European level, together with that of regulating foreign champions.
Faced with an inflationary crisis unseen since the 1980s, he has imposed a costly "tariff shield" on electricity and gas prices and put pressure on manufacturers and distributors to curb soaring food prices.
Having survived the first reshuffle in July 2023, Bruno Le Maire returns to Bercy again in January 2024 and is given the energy portfolio.
A longtime supporter of nuclear power, he takes control of the strategic competence previously managed by Agnès Pannier-Runacher outside the Bercy perimeter.
A sign of the "trust" that binds Emmanuel Macron and Bruno Le Maire, even if they "will not go on vacation together", commented a senior member of the parliamentary majority.
He is tasked with representing new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal at international energy talks, as well as securing France's supplies beyond the winter of 2022-2023, marked by fears of shortages linked to the war in Ukraine.
Together with Christophe Beschou, Minister for Ecological Transition, Bruno Le Maire is responsible for fighting climate change and promoting more sustainable energy consumption.
Finally, according to the JO, he has "authority over the Directorate General for Energy and Climate", which means much tighter control.
Having been at Bercy for almost seven years, Bruno Le Maire is second only to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who was minister at Rue de Rivoli for almost nine years (January 1962-January 1966, June 1969-May 1974).
Bercy's current powers are among the broadest in the Fifth Republic, although former Prime Minister Raymond Barré headed both the government and the Ministry of Economy and Finance from 1976 to 1978.
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