News from France – Sunday 9 May 2021

This is news from France for Sunday 9 May

This week:

The government stepped up its vaccine programme

There was a slight uptick in employment numbers

and protests over fishing reached the island of Jersey.

The French vaccine programme against Covid-19 is being stepped up with people aged over 50 able to book an appointment from Monday.

As of Sunday 17.53 million people had received a first injection. New daily cases reported stood at 20,745.

President Macron said on Thursday he was “absolutely in favour” of a global waiver on Covid-19 patent protection.

No French pharmaceutical company has yet developed a vaccine.

Current restrictions on movement are due to be reviewed in ten days time. For now, the overnight curfew remains in place.

Quarantine for people arriving from a further seven countries came into force on Saturday night.

They include Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Travel is only permitted for essential reasons and all travelers have to comply with strict, pre-travel conditions followed by a compulsory 10-day quarantine on arrival.

Travelers from India, South Africa, Brazil, Chile and Argentina are already subject to the quarantine.

The national statistics bureau (INSEE) has reported an increase in private payroll employment for the first quarter of the year.

It is the second quarterly increase since the Covid pandemic began – the first being in the summer of 2020.

There were a total of 57,300 new jobs created across all sectors.

Overall unemployment remains at 8 percent. Business managers surveyed in April remain optimistic for a strong rebound in investment in manufacturing this year, particularly for electrical, electronic and machine equipment.

UK navy vessels were sent to Jersey in the Bay of St Malo amid protests from French fishermen over licenses to fish in the waters around the island.

Jersey is a self-governing British Crown Dependency 22 kilometers from the French coast and 137 kilometers south of the English one. It was part of the Duchy of Normandy, whose dukes went on to become kings of England from 1066.

The island issues its own fishing licenses but Brexit has led to changes in the permits available for French boats.

Jersey boats have also faced problems landing their catches in France.

About 50 French fishing boats arrived at dawn on Thursday.

According to the UK government, the two Royal Navy patrollers (HMS Severn and HMS Tamar) were sent to “monitor the situation.”

French authorities said their police boat (Athos) and patroller (Themis) were on a public service mission to ensure safety.

The fishing boats left the area on Thursday afternoon and the UK and French vessels were withdrawn.

This has been News from France for Sunday 9 May 2021.

News from France – 2 May 2021

This is News from France, a weekly review for Sunday May 2nd

Highlights this week were:

a presidential timetable for Covid-19 restrictions

labour day marches

EU funds for countries affected by Brexit

and the Emperor Napoleon’s books

The French president laid out a timetable for relaxing restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, as indicators suggested some signs of improvement.

There were 25,670 new cases reported in the 24 hours to Sunday and French hospitals are still under intense pressure to care for critically-ill patients.

Since the start of the pandemic, France has recorded 5.57 million Covid-19 cases and 103,947 deaths.

President Macron announced that the nightly curfew would be relaxed from May 19 and outdoor service would be allowed at cafes, bars and restaurants.

Vaccinations would be offered to all adults from mid-June and travel restrictions are also expected to be eased.

Traditional labour marches on May day were held with about 100,000 people taking part in 281 gatherings across the country.

Numbers were restricted because of Covid-19 controls on assemblies.

The range of demands and concerns varied among the demonstrators – for jobs, wages, public services, liberty and peace in the world.

Irish lawmakers are concerned Ireland could lose 200 million euros to France from its share of the billion-euro Brexit compensation fund.

French negotiators at the EU had argued the original proposal for most of the fund to go to Ireland was unfair.

Last week, a compromise was reached under the auspices of the Portuguese government which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Funds will be calculated on a basis of the importance of UK trade to EU economies as well as share of total EU trade.

Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews compared the French approach to a “smash and grab.” He told the Independent newspaper that Ireland was “very disadvantaged” by the deal.

And nearly 200 years after his death the Emperor Napoleon continues to be a subject of interest for readers across the world.

On average one book for each day of the year is published – and most of them find ready buyers.

The Emperor’s own library at Fontainebleau contains some 35,000 books although he did not apparently write many manuscripts of his own.

One of them, a 74-page document dictated to his seven secretaries, was written shortly after the Battle of Austerlitz. It remains in private hands.

This has been news from France for Sunday 2nd May, 2021.

News from France 25 April 2021

This is News from France, a weekly review for Sunday 25 April

This week’s main news was:

Covid-19 cases remaining above 30,000 per day

French fishermen taking direct action concerning UK waters

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet arriving on the International Space Station

The number of new daily cases of Covid-19 was reported as 32,633 on Sunday.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said there had been a “genuine fall in the virus circulation” over the previous ten days and that schools would reopen from Monday.

The 7pm to 6am curfew is to remain in place but the 10 kilometre travel limit for people from their homes is to be lifted from the start of May.

Over 13 million people have received at least a first dose of vaccine.

About 80 fishermen blocked two trucks carrying UK-landed fish at the Boulogne docks in northern France on Thursday to protest post-Brexit restrictions on fishing in UK waters.

The Brexit trade deal allowed EU fishermen to keep fishing into British waters – but only if they have a licence.

Four months after the deal was signed, 80 percent of the French fishing fleet is still waiting for the permits, the protesters said.

About two-thirds of UK-landed fish are exported to Europe – including mackerel, whiting, squid.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet arrived on board the International Space Station late Saturday morning French time to start his second mission, four years after his first one.

He was one of four crew onboard the second operational flight of the recycled SpaceX capsule, which was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

There are currently 11 astronauts on board the space station but four will return to earth on Wednesday. Pesquet and his team will spend the next six months onboard.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 25 April 2021

News from France 18 April 2021

This is News from France, a weekly review for Sunday 18 April

As Covid-19 deaths pass 100,000, further travel restrictions are imposed on foreign visitors

the cost of damage from spring frosts is being counted by wine producers and fruit farmers

lawmakers voted for limitations on domestic air travel

and state help for French companies with their debts could be on the way.

The number of people who have died as a result of Covid-19 passed 100,000 this week. The number of new daily cases to Sunday was reported as 35,861. A total of 12.32 million people have been vaccinated to date.

Pressure on intensive care units in hospitals is still high and the current lockdown with nightly curfew for people to stay within 10 kilometers of their homes is ongoing.

France is also to make travelers arriving from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and South Africa spend 10 days in quarantine, the prime minister’s office announced on Saturday. Flights from Brazil have been suspended until at least next Friday because of concerns over the P1 variant of the virus.

The agriculture ministry is preparing emergency financial measures after frost and ice hit vineyards and fruit trees across France over the last two weeks.

Minister Julien Denormandie said it was probably the worst agricultural catastrophe of the century. At least a third of wine production could be lost, reducing sales by up to 2 billion euros.

On a visit with the prime minister to southern France on Saturday, the minister announced that a billion euros would be made available for producers hit by the cold weather after a spell of unusually high temperatures in early spring.

Members of parliament voted this week to suspend short domestic flights if the same journey can by made by train within 2 and a half hours.

The routes would include Paris to Bordeaux, Paris to Lyon and Paris to Marseille.

The measure is an attempt to reduce carbon emissions and more details are to be published shortly.

After French companies reached new levels of debt, the government has indicated some of them could be cancelled or delayed.

French company debt reached 1.8 billion euros in 2020 according to figures from the Bank of France.

On Wednesday, finance minister Bruno Le Maire said part of the debts could be cancelled or delayed on a “case by case” basis.

There has been a reduction in the number of bankruptcies – but the Bank of France said this did not indicate a fall in the number of companies in difficulty. Measures have been in force since the start of the Covid pandemic to support businesses and reduce or limit their costs and charges.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 18 April 2021

News from France 11 April 2021

This is News from France, a weekly review for Sunday 11 April

The focus for this week was:

  • the roll out of the Covid 19 vaccine for lower age groups
  • special measures for wine and fruit growers after nights of freezing temperatures
  • President Macron’s moves to close the elite national school of administration (ENA)
  • the delay of the Roland-Garros tennis tournament by a week.

Health minister Olivier Véran announced at the weekend that vaccines against Covid will become available for people aged 55 or older.

The minister said the vaccination programme was on or just ahead of schedule with 10.54 million people receiving vaccines so far. There were 43,000 new cases reported in the 24 hours to Sunday.

Supplies of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Janssen-Cilag) are due to begin this week.

Winemakers and fruit growers are counting the cost of unusual freezing temperatures to their plants.

After some warm seasonal temperatures, there were nights of frost which hit wine growing areas from Bordeaux to Burgundy. They caused winegrowers to suggest this year could be the smallest harvest in decades.

The government has declared a situation of agricultural calamity (régime de calamité agricole) and will offer financial support to growers who also include fruit farmers – whose apricots, apples and kiwi trees were damaged by the frost.

The Covid-19 shutdown of restaurants and bars had already depressed demand for wine.

Exports to the US fell after the former administration imposed tariffs.

Exports to the UK have also been disrupted by new trade rules following Brexit.

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday plans to replace the national school of administration (Ecole nationale d’administration ENA) in Strasbourg with a new public service institute (Institut du service public ISP).

In a video conference on Thursday Macron said the new institute would provide the common training ground for all state administrators and lead to a profound change in the way students are recruited, with a mission to introduce more diversity.

The grand ecole for high state officers including presidents, ministers, ambassadors and directors was set up in 1945. Over the years it has become a symbol of elitism and privilege as many graduates move between the public and private sector.

Macron, who graduated in 2004, referred to the school’s reform in a press conference in April 2019 after street demonstrations across France by the “gilets jaunes.”

One year ahead of the presidential elections, the move is a return to Macron’s message of reform.

and this year’s French Open tennis tournament in Paris has been put back a week due to the Covid situation.

It will start on May 30, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said on Thursday. It is now due to finish on 13 June, two weeks before the Wimbledon championships are expected to start in London.

The federation hopes the delay will give the health situation more time to improve and optimise chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 11 April 2021

News from France – 4 April 2021

A weekly review of news from France

This is News from France, a weekly review for Sunday 4 April

Restrictions in 19 departments have been extended to the whole of France for the next four weeks in an attempt to control the increase in the number of new Covid cases.

Described as a “light lockdown” non-essential businesses are closed and trips limited to a 10 kilometer radius around people’s homes. Schools will be closed from Tuesday.

According to the government AntiCovid app on Sunday there were 46,677 new cases reported in the previous 24 hours and intensive care units in hospitals are at full capacity.

The vaccination programme is continuing, with 9.11 million people vaccinated so far. From next Tuesday, seven military hospitals are to open vaccination centres, defense minister Florence Parly announced.

Economy minister Bruno le Maire remained upbeat about the prospects for the year, saying the fundamentals were solid. France should receive its 5 billion euro share of the European Union’s recovery fund in July.

The plans include creating 160,000 new jobs this year, according to the prime minister.

The governor of the central bank (Banque de France) forecast growth of 5.5 percent this year after a contraction of 8.2 percent last year.

In a televised address on Wednesday, President Macron said cafe terraces would start to open again from mid May, if the health situation allowed.

From mid-May to the beginning of summer, there would be a schedule of gradual reopening for culture, sports, leisure, events and cafes and restaurants, he said.

Some major events are in doubt – including the Roland Garros tennis tournament due to start on 17 May.

and scientists have warned of the dangers of invasive species to the environment.

In a report published in the journal Nature, a team from the Ecology, Systematics and Evolution Laboratory said the introduction and spread of a species outside its native habitat had resulted in over a trillion US dollars in associated costs between 1970 and 2017.

They cited Australia’s feral European rabbit populations and the Asian long-horned beetle which is causing damage in American forests.

The 5-year project found the trend showed no sign of slowing down and called for coordinated measures to protect and control biodiversity.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 4th April 2021

News from France 28.3.2021

A weekly bulletin of news in English –

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, for Sunday 28 March

The focus for this week was:

  • the rise of daily Covid-19 cases to more than 40,000
  • publication of the report into France’s role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide
  • a rise in French public debt
  • and the Culture Ministry’s candidate for a UNESCO listing.

As the number of Covid-19 cases reported daily reached 42,619 on Sunday, restrictions on movement were stepped up at the weekend.

Three more regions joined the 19 departments already in a four-week period of what the government described not as a “lockdown” but as a “third way” to put a brake on the virus without closing down the country.

The three are the Rhone department around the city of Lyon; Aube, southeast of Paris and Nièvre in central France.

90,000 police officers have been mobilised to carry out more controls at airports, train stations and motorway tolls in the departments applying stricter Covid-related measures.

Drivers crossing the border south into Spain will have to present a negative test from within 72 hours, the Spanish government announced on Saturday. Controls are also being stepped up at the borders into Belgium and Germany.

The number of people vaccinated reached 7,5 million of whom 2,6 million have had two doses. The number of people in intensive care in Paris hospitals has reached its highest so far this year.

The government is expected to announce further measures this week.

The historical commission set up by President Emmanuel Macron to look into France’s role in the Rwanda genocide of 1994 was made public on Friday.

While stating there was no proof the government of the day under President Francois Mitterand was complicit in the killings, the commission said France did not do enough to halt the massacres.

The genocide against the Tutsi population of Rwanda took place between April and July of 1994 after the Hutu President who was close to the French government died when his plane was shot down in the first week of April. Some 800,000 people were killed – mainly from the Tutsi minority.

Macron has said he wants to visit Rwanda this year and his office said it hoped the report would mark an “irreversible” reconciliation process between France and Rwanda.

Public debt in France has reached levels not seen since 1949 according to the national statistics office (Insee).

The 2020 public deficit – which includes the State budget, local and social security authorities – reached 211 billion euros, compared to 75 billion for the previous year.

The latest figures are the equivalent of 116 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The State budget more than doubled – to 182 billion euros.

The coronavirus and the shutting down of businesses caused the economy to contract by 8.2 percent in 2020.

The Culture Ministry has announced its candidate for UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list – and chosen the famous French bread – the baguette. (“savoir-faire et de la culture de la baguette de pain.”)

There are 35,000 independent bread makers throughout France – making billions of baguettes each year.

Officially named “baguette” a hundred years ago, in 1920, a law declared it must weigh at least 80 grams and be a maxium length of 40 centimetres.

The application will be studied by UNESCO and the result announced in autumn of next year.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 28 March 2021

News from France 21.3.2021

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, for Sunday 21 March

The focus for this week was:

  • further restrictions of movement for people living in 19 northern departments, including the Paris area, because of Covid-19
  • Senate approval for a law giving off-duty police officers the right to carry their weapons into theatres unopposed
  • and the hunting of songbirds using glue sticks has been banned by the European Court of Justice.

In a flurry of messages over the week, a 4-week restriction of movement and closing of non-essential shops was announced on Thursday for 16 departments, affecting about 21 million people. (“… nouvelles mesures de freinage massives” Jean Castex). The measures came into force from Friday midnight.

The areas are mainly in the north of France, bordering Belgium, but also including the Alpes Maritimes on the southern coastal border with Italy.

Many people left Paris ahead of the lockdown on Friday night – with roads jammed and trains full.

The complexity of new, 2-page forms needed to show to police were simplified at the weekend after widespread criticism. In the new forms, one of 8 reasons need to be given for leaving home between the hours of 7pm and 6 am, and in a second form, one of 12 reasons need to be given for going outdoors between the hours of 6 am and 7pm in the 16 departments.

The number of daily reported cases across France reached more than 30,000 this week and the rollout of the vaccines was hampered by a temporary suspension due to concerns over the Astra Zeneca variety. The programme is expected to be stepped up again this week, across a wider age group. So far 5.63 million people have been vaccinated, according to the Anti-Covid mobile app.

As part of the new security law, the Senate on Thursday passed Article 25 which allows off-duty local officers and gendarmes (national police) to carry their firearms into public buildings such as theatres and shopping centers. It forbids the venue management from preventing the officers bringing in their weapons.

For five years, officers have been able to carry their firearms outside their working shifts if they asked their superiors beforehand. About 30,000 officers are believed to take their guns home with them.

The new measures have already been passed by the National Assembly.

Article 24 of the same law aimed to prevent images of officers being disseminated if that could harm their “physical or mental integrity.”

In a ruling on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice banned the hunting of songbirds with gluesticks.

The practice is used by hunters to lure birds into traps. The birds land on the sticks (verguettes) and can not escape. The sounds they then make attract other birds which are then shot by the hunters.

The method had been banned in the EU in 1979 but the French government had used an opt-out for 6,000 trappers in five departments in the south east, arguing it was “controlled, selective and in limited quantities.”

However, in its judgement, the European Court found otherwise.

The Bird Protection League (LPO) welcomed the ruling, writing on Twitter it was the culmination of a long battle. (L’aboutissement d’un long combat..

The League says French hunters kill millions of birds each year across 64 different species – more than any other European country.

News from France 14.3.2021

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, for Sunday 14 March

The focus for this week was:

  • the high level of daily Covid-19 cases
  • relaxation of travel restrictions with the UK and six other, non EU countries
  • protests from theatre workers at continued closures
  • and higher costs for movie makers in Paris.

There were 29,759 new Covid-19 cases in the 24-hours to Sunday.

The vaccine programme continued with 4.85 million people injected so far.

On Friday, France’s top health authority (Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) announced approval for the one-shot vaccine produced by US pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson for use against Covid-19. It followed the go-ahead from the EU authorities the previous day.

There are concerns of a further lockdown in the Paris region, and the government’s health council (conseil de défense sanitaire) is due to meet again this week to discuss the situation.

To date, 4 million people have been infected and 90,000 have died after contracting the virus in France.

As from Friday, travelers to and from Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and Singapore no longer need to justify a compelling reason to travel, the foreign ministry announced.

However, they still need a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of travel.

French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said this easing was due to the improving health situation in those countries.

He wrote on Twitter: “The list includes Britain, because the UK variant now also circulates widely in France.”

The highly contagious British variant of the virus accounts for 67 percent of all new infections, according to the health ministry.

The foreign ministry said that in general it strongly recommends limiting international travel as much as possible.

Artists and workers have carried out protests across France at the continued closure of theatres, cinemas, art galleries and other cultural spaces which have been shut since October.

The protesters say there is no need to keep the venues closed when social-distancing measures can be enforced.

A week-long sit-in at the Odeon theatre in Paris continued despite the offer of a further 30 million euros in financial aid by the government.

The Paris Council (Conseil de Paris) announced on Thursday new rates for media companies using the city as a backdrop for their productions.

Applicable from the start of April, film makers will need to find an extra 10 percent to pay their bills in the city.

Despite the Covid restrictions the city booked 5,000 days of shooting by media companies last year – adding about 800,000 euros to the city coffers. Most of the companies have been French – and include the recent Netflix success “Lupin”.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 14 March 2021

News from France 7.3.2021

This is News from France, a weekly review for Sunday March 7th

The focus for this week was:

departmental restrictions to control the spread of Covid 19

the sentencing of former President Nicolas Sarkozy for fraud

an easing in the trade dispute with the USA

and a survey of honesty includes four French cities.

At least ten million people should be vaccinated against Covid 19 by the middle of next month Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

According to the mobile app on Sunday, 3.58 million people have been vaccinated while new cases reported for the previous 24 hours were 23,306.

There are “alert zones” in the north and south east of France under a close watch in addition to the nightly curfew.

Measures include weekend lockdowns in Pas-de-Calais, on the Alpes-Maritimes coast and in Dunkirk and affect about 2.5 million people.

In a landmark ruling, former President Nicolas Sarkozy has been given a three-year sentence for corruption and influence peddling.

He is the first, former president in the Fifth Republic to be given a prison sentence for corruption.

Sarkozy has launched an appeal in the so-called “eavesdropping affair” (des écoutes de Paul Bismuth) and denies the charges.

He faces two further trials – one concerning the financing of his 2012 presidential campaign and the other over Libyan funds for his 2007 campaign.

Sarkozy is unlikely to face prison time – he is eligible to serve his sentence under house arrest and with electronic surveillance.

In welcome news for French wine exporters, the US government has announced the 25 percent tariffs on French wine and cognac imports are to be suspended for four months.

The measures are part of an agreement following a phone call on Friday between US President Joe Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and confirmed in a statement from the US trade department.

The four-month period will give time for the two sides to find a settlement for the long-running trade dispute over subsidies for aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing.

French wine exports to the US in 2018 were worth about 9 billion euros but fell dramatically after tariffs were applied by the Trump administration in the US in 2019.

Imports of French wine then fell by 50 percent in the six months from January 2020, according to the US International Trade Commission.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire welcomed the news via Twitter, “I rejoice for our French winegrowers” he wrote.

and in a survey by German car sales data analysts Twinner just four French cities made the top 75 in its “honest city index.”

The study ranks cities to compare how honest citizens are in different sectors of society, including car dealership reviews, government, theft and civic duty.

Lille (37), Lyon (49), Toulouse (55) and Paris (69) made the list – although cities in China, India and Latin America were excluded for lack of data.

Switzerland’s business hub Zurich came out top, followed by Tokyo and Adelaide.