PARIS — France’s finance and economy minister, Bruno le Maire, said any plans to stimulate auto sales will not appear before September, as the government considers the best way to restart the French economy after coronavirus shutdowns.
Speaking before the French National Assembly on Wednesday, Le Maire singled out the automotive industry, tourism and aerospace as three industries that would need specific support plans.
He noted that consumer spending had all but dried up during confinement, which started March 16 in France and is to be gradually relaxed starting May 11. Deposits and other savings were at 20 billion euros in March, three times the normal level, he said.
“These savings must go to our SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises], to our economic fabric, to our businesses, and therefore we have to encourage demand to grow at the time of recovery,” he said. A detailed recovery plan would not appear before early September, he said.
"This moment requires that we take a little time," he said. "In a period of crisis, it is good to question ourselves, to reflect and draw up political guidelines on how we want a revival to proceed."
The German auto industry is already preparing plans for scrapping incentives to stimulate auto sales, with the provision that they encourage lower pollution levels. Many countries, including France, put such incentives in place during the 2008 financial crisis.
Le Maire warned that European governments needed to be aligned on incentive plans.
“Nothing would be worse than to have France taking one recovery strategy and Germany taking a different one,” he said. “We need to coordinate in particular between the largest economies in the euro area.”
He also urged that any incentives put in place needed to continue to support CO2 reductions. With oil prices near rock bottom, he said, It would be a “historic error” to say, "Let's use oil, use fossil fuels, get the economy going as quickly as possible and then we will see later about ecological transition.”
“We must have the courage to continue to support an acceleration of the decarbonization of our economy rather than building a sloppy recovery with fossil fuels that may allow us to get by in one, two or three years — but which will make us fall behind for future generations,” Le Maire said.