The Government pulls strings to close a French-style basket with the distributors


“The measures or announcements that we are learning about in other countries refer to voluntary measures by multinational groups. We assume that those multinational groups that have a presence in Spain extend any trade policy that may favor French citizens, Spanish citizens“, said the First Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, at the press conference after the Council of Ministers, when asked about the ‘anti-inflation shopping basket’ agreed in France. However, the The person in charge of the economic portfolio has not entered into an assessment of what role the Government plays in encouraging a pact of these characteristics to come to a close, although it has already begun to pull its strings to make it so.

France surprised at the beginning of the week by reaching a consensus with the large distributors that operate in the country to reduce their business margins on a list of products that they must determine. This announcement is reminiscent of the measure launched years ago by Nicolas Sarkozy under the nickname “essential products” and it has not taken long to generate reactions from the sector on the other side of the Pyrenees. While consumers read it positively, businessmen show their doubts. However, sources close to the Ministry of Economic Affairs confirm that the Government is negotiating intensely in order to tackle the rise in the price of food with an agreement of similar characteristics.

Therefore, just as Macron’s team did, the Spanish Executive has taken the initiative in finding a solution in talks led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment. “The Government is tremendously sensitive to the situation of families, especially the most vulnerable, which are the ones that are most affected by the impact of inflation and the increase in purchases,” Calviño defended this Tuesday. However, the Council of Ministers has no intention of forcing this drop by law along the lines that the Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, has proposed on different occasions. Despite the fact that the shopping basket has once again gained strength in the sphere of public and political debate, capping the price of a list of basic products, as the leader of the space to the left of the PSOE proposed, seems to escape the options valued by those responsible for Agriculture and Economy.

On the other hand, Nadia Calviño seems to opt for the companies in the sector to be the ones that make proposals to agree on an arrangement with the Government, since she has insisted that the French agreement is the product of the voluntary nature of the multinationals. In this sense, she has been confident that the groups that also have representation in Spain will transfer these proposals to the Executive. The French solution, which goes through cut business margins, it could convince the socialist wing of the Government, given that the Minister of Economic Affairs has been in favor of making the margins of distribution companies public, as has been proposed by the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón. “The elements that show transparency are positive,” the minister replied.

However, this position clashes with that expressed almost simultaneously by the spokesman for the Socialist Parliamentary Group, Patxi López, who has pointed out that if a measure in the image of the French This could have “devastating” consequences for small businesses. Precisely, this has been the argument of the formation led by Pedro Sánchez to reject the proposal launched by United We Can that advocated discounting a 14% discount on the supermarket purchase ticket. Then, from the Ministry of Finance, the difficulty of applying this policy was pointed out and reference was also made to the potential damage to local and proximity commerce.

Meanwhile, the agreement in which the Government is working seems to focus exclusively on the largest groups in the sector, since they are the ones who would have the ability to adjust their benefits to a list of selected products, while this decision could have a great cost for smaller outlets. In parallel, the Executive has assured that it is working to reinforce the observatories available to evaluate the operation of the measures already applied by the coalition government -VAT reduction-. However, contrary to what has been expressed in recent weeks, the Executive seems to have ruled out that this reduction is sufficient to tackle the situation, after the CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages barely fell three tenths in January, up to 15.4%.

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