PARIS (Reuters) – Energy suppliers are not doing enough to help France’s trademark bakeries cope with soaring energy bills, Finance Minister Bruno le Maire said on Tuesday.
Le Maire, who will meet with energy firms later in the day to discuss the matter, warned the government had “the tools to make energy suppliers meet their commitments towards the state and the companies”.
He did not say what these tools could be, however, nor name the energy suppliers he was targeting.
“The state will not let down anyone. The state will not let down its bakers,” Le Maire told a news conference, stressing the crisis came after the baguette, France’s staple bread, made it onto the United Nation’s cultural heritage list in November.
“The French state is doing its share to help bakers, energy suppliers must do their share,” Le Maire added.
Le Maire also said the state would write to France’s 33,000 bakers to detail the existing and future help they can expect.
Earlier in the day, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed plans to help French bakers cope with rising energy bills, allowing them to spread the payment of their taxes over time and possibly “the payment of their energy bills for the first months of the year”.
Dominique Anract, the president of the French Bakers’ Confederation, told Reuters he was pleased that bakers were being heard by the government and urged them to seek all the help that was available.
“Now we expect a gesture from energy supliers,” he said, adding that “if a baker is trapped in rotten contract, he must be able to exit it”.
Bakers have warned of baguettes costing four euros apiece if electricity prices are not brought down.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon;Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)
FILE PHOTO: A baker shows freshly-baked baguettes at “Armand” bakery in Nice, France, November 28, 2022. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard