can the State force suppliers to renegotiate contracts with VSEs?

Margaux Fodere
modified to

10:25 a.m., January 06, 2023

This Thursday, Emmanuel Macron asked all energy suppliers to “renegotiate” in January “the excessive contracts” of all VSEs. The president also said he was “fed up” with those who make “excessive profits”. For their part, if some suppliers seem to agree to play the game, others simply cannot.

It will heat up in Bercy. After the bakers and restaurateurs, the energy suppliers are summoned for an explanation of the text with the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire. Thursday, Emmanuel Macron asked them to renegotiate the price of contracts with very small businesses (TPE). A measure that does not only concern bakers, but all businesses, butchers and dry cleaners. Can the government really make suppliers bend?

Renegotiations not always possible, according to suppliers

“We are well aware of the subject, we have heard the call of the president”, indicates a alternative electricity supplier on condition of anonymity to Europe 1. But others claim to have nothing to be ashamed of. This is the case of Engie or the supplier ekWateur. Actors totally comfortable with the contracts they have signed. Especially since renegotiating them is not always possible.

This is what Julien Tchernia, co-founder and CEO of ekWateur, reminds us. “If I renegotiated all the contracts with the VSEs to put the price we see today compared to the price of this autumn, the box would immediately lose 5 million euros. Who pays this difference? I don’t have the ‘money means that I close my box,’ he warns at the microphone of Europe 1.

So can Emmanuel Macron force energy suppliers to renegotiate contracts? No. Bercy recognizes that the state has no leverage to constrain them. But according to information from Europe 1, the government could give the names of the suppliers who would not play the game, without further details for the moment.