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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le PCF lance une campagne pour la renationalisation des autoroutes

by Fabrice Savel

French Communist Party Launches Campaign to Re-Nationalize Toll Roads

Translated Saturday 22 November 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

The communists will hand out leaflets at a toll gate on Nov. 18 to launch a campaign to re-nationalize the toll roads.

Pierre Laurent, a senator and the French Communist Party (PCF) national secretary; Andre Chassaigne, the chairman of the Left Front deputies in the National Assembly; and Eliane Assassi, the chairman of the CRC parliamentary group in the French Senate; together with activists will hand out flyers at the Chamant toll gate on the A1 toll road north of Paris on the morning of Nov. 18. The local Left Front deputy, Patrice Carvalho, will also be present. They will thus launch a campaign to re-nationalize the toll roads.

For the PCF, the “toll roads, whose construction was largely financed by the taxpayers, should return to the State and hence to the people. This will make it possible to lower the scandalously high tolls.”

“Out of 100 euros paid in tolls, between 20 and 24 euros go directly into the shareholders’ pockets,” André Chassaigne said in condemnation. Thus a report two months ago by the Commission on Competition pointed up the facts that the toll road operators enjoy a 20% or more profitability rate and that tolls have gone up faster than inflation since the toll roads were privatized in 2006.

The Left Front deputies have tabled a bill for “the nationalization of the toll road operators and the paying of dividends to the agency for the financing of transport infrastructure.” Nationalization “seems the fairest thing” in the face of the “veritable racket that the toll road operators have organized to the detriment of users,” according to the Left Front’s account of its motivations. It also condemns the fall in toll road operator staffing. Last June, an identical bill tabled by the Communist senators was voted down by the Senate.

In the eyes of the PCF, “if the government can give 50 billion euros to still the MEDEF’s hunger, it ought to be able to invest in the toll roads, an investment which, according to several studies, would quickly begin turning a profit.” According to the PCF, “the money from the tolls” should “serve to finance an ecological transition to improve transport for all.”

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