“Using savings from the Livret A to finance the construction of new nuclear reactors without public debate is unacceptable”

“Using savings from the Livret A to finance the construction of new nuclear reactors without public debate is unacceptable”

In January 10, 2023, during his hearing before the Finance Committee of the National Assembly, Eric Lombard, director of the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC), declared that “the popular savings account of Livret A, the Livret de développement durable et solidaire, the Livret d’épargne populaire… can even more finance the transformation of our energy production system”. The ministers for ecological transition and industry then acknowledged that the government could direct part of the savings deposited in the Livret A towards the construction of European pressurized reactors (EPR), the new generation reactors. The decision on this subject should be taken in 2023. However, EPRs in the Livret A without public debate, it is unacceptable!

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This planned partial signposting of the Livret A calls into question on two points: on the one hand, on what will happen to social housing in the Livret A, on the other hand on the relevance of the Livret A to finance the nuclear program.

This regulated savings plays a major role in popular savings: it brought together 375 billion euros at the end of 2022 and more than eight out of ten people had a passbook. It is mainly managed by the CDC, in the same way as the Sustainable and Solidarity Development Booklet (LDDS). About 300 of the 510 billion in outstandings from these two booklets are centralized at the CDC for the year 2022, the equivalent of 12% of GDP. This shows the importance of any decision relating to its use.

Huge challenge

It is to accomplish missions of general interest that the CDC has a mandate to manage part of the Livret A and LDDS funds. These funds support the loans granted by the CDC for social housing and urban policy. What is not centralized by the CDC is oriented towards small or medium-sized enterprises and the energy transition. While other types of financing were opened up in 2020, after popular savings rose sharply in the context of the health crisis, the part centralized at the CDC remains oriented towards social housing and development projects. and urban renewal. In 2021, the CDC financed almost a quarter of the housing built in France, i.e. 85,300 new social housing units, and its loans enabled the rehabilitation of 81,600 other housing units in the existing stock.

Read also: Slippages of the Flamanville EPR in graphs: the cost multiplied by 5, the duration of the construction site by 4

For the years to come, the challenge is immense. To deal with the housing crisis and the thermal renovation needs of the 460,000 energy sieves of the social stock, the CDC will absolutely have to step up its support. It is a path of energy sobriety that will benefit the inhabitants, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, housing will be made unsuitable for rental, while 1.7 million households are still waiting for low-rent housing in France. If the government decides to dip into the Livret A to finance part of its nuclear program, this should not be to the detriment of its historical uses. The housing issues and the needs of the priority neighborhoods of the city’s policy are such that no one would understand.

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