France is stingy in financing sustainable mobility

545 days ago

3 minutes

In May 2020, France introduced the so-called “Forfait Mobilité Durable”, a financial incentive to encourage employees to commute sustainably. The conditions for 2021 have been slightly adjusted. A comparison with Belgium shows that France is skimping on sustainable mobility.

In the private sector, an employer may intervene up to a maximum of € 500 per year in the purchase of a conventional bicycle or an EPAC, but also in the equipment, accessories, repair and insurance. “May”, because the measure is voluntary. The same intervention is also allowed in the use of shared e-scooters and self-balancing vehicles.

That amount is exempt from taxes and social security. The employer may contribute more, but everything above € 500 is subject to social security and tax and the employees will also have to declare it as income. Some employers grant their employees a kilometer allowance (Indemnités Kilométriques Vélos – IKV). They can continue to do so, but that fee must be deducted from the € 500.

This is a peculiar measure because it discriminates against workers who live further from their work. If you commute a decent distance with a speed pedelec, for example, you will soon reach that ceiling of € 500. And that, while it is precisely employees who live far from their work who need extra motivation to switch to sustainable mobility. In the 365SNEL project in Belgium, 20% of the test riders definitely switched to a speed pedelec. A total of 15% previously used a car. In Belgium they can enjoy a tax-free mileage allowance up to € 0.24. The project showed that they drove an average of 21.6 km per day. Assuming 220 working days per year, this results in a tax-free extra of € 1,140, ​​a lot higher than what France is allowing.

The scheme for employees in public service is different. There, a maximum contribution of € 200 is provided for each employee who uses a bicycle or an EPAC to commute. They must do this for a minimum number of days per year, based on their working time. However, this € 200 cannot be combined with, for example, financial compensation for a subscription to rent an (e)-bike for commuting. In Belgium there is no distinction between employees in the private and public sector. It is not entirely clear to us why France makes this distinction. “L’Hexagone” appears to be willing to invest in sustainable mobility, but it should not all cost too much. Perhaps someone in Paris should carry out an in-depth study and calculation of the internalisation of external costs and benefits of the different transport modes. This will quickly show that skimping on sustainable mobility is not really a profitable policy that benefits society. Molière’s “miser” is long dead.

Annick Roetynck

Picture: European Mobility Week

Daan van Dieren

Daan is a policy officer for LEVA-EU

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