News from France 28.2.2021

A weekly review of news from France

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

The focus for this week was:

further restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19

hopes for an agreement over the taxation of US tech giants

a settlement in court for French industrial group Bolloré


the migration of hundreds of continental cranes.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has called on the prefects of 20 departments already “under surveillance” for the spread of Covid-19 to reinforce their controls.

Speaking at the weekend, he urged further efforts for the vaccine campaign, tests and for people to respect the directives concerning working from home. Castex said the objective was to do everything to avoid a national lockdown and adopt the measures in force for the 20 departments most at risk from the spread of the virus.

The streets and beaches of the Cote d’Azur from Menton to Cannes were deserted as visitors respected the weekend shutdown.

The AntiCovid mobile app which reports on the management of the virus was showing nearly 24 thousand new cases in the previous 24 hours on Sunday (23,996) with 2.92 million people vaccinated.

With the change of administration in the United States, French government ministers are hopeful of reaching tax agreements for tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

After a G20 video conference on Friday, Finance Minister Bruno le Maire said an international agreement on taxation for business and digital services was within reach.

For many years, the US tech giants have been accused of exploiting loopholes to keep their tax bills to a minimum.

The G20 finance ministers hold their next meeting in Venice, Italy in July.

In a Paris court on Friday industrial group Bolloré reached a 12-million-euro settlement in a case of corruption concerning the management of the west African port of Lomé, Togo’s capital city.

However, the judge rejected a plea deal which would have seen three company executives recognize their guilt and pay a fine of 375,000 euros.

The judge said the fines were too lenient as the executives’ actions had “seriously harmed the public economic order” as well as Togo’s sovereignty. She recommended that the three should stand trial under criminal charges.

However, that decision depends on an investigating magistrate.

Hundreds of continental cranes took advantage of warm, strong southerly winds to fly north from their over-winter homes in Spain.

The birds circle to find the best air currents before arranging themselves in the most aerodynamic v-shaped formations as they fly hundreds of miles towards northern Europe for the summer.

Their migration route has moved in recent years and now goes directly over La Rochefoucauld, in the Charente department of southwest France.

The passage of the birds traditionally marks the end of winter.

Cranes (Grues) flying over la Rochefoucauld, Charente

News from France 21.2.2021

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

The focus for this week was:

Covid-19 cases and vaccines

the outlook for summer festivals

5G mobile phone rollout in Paris

new nuclear submarines

and sands from the Sahara blowing over France.

The number of Covid-19 cases for the previous day reached 22,371, according to public health figures released on Saturday.

The number of daily cases has been about 20,000 since the end of December.

Two and a half million people have been vaccinated, with more expected this week as the first deliveries of the Astra Zeneca vaccines are sent to health centres.

The dusk to dawn curfew (6pm to 6am) and travel restrictions are ongoing.

The mayor of Nice called for a weekend lockdown to prevent visitors coming into the Mediterranean city area which currently has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in France.

The culture ministry announced this week that summer festivals will be able to go ahead – but the number of people attending will be limited to 5,000, and everyone must be seated.

The rules will apply to indoor and outdoor events.

Currently restaurants, bars, museums, theatres and concert halls are all closed.

The ministry said that a €30 million-euro fund will compensate festivals that have to make changes or cancel.

Mobile phone operators have made an agreement with the Paris Mayor for the rollout of the 5G network.

Signed by Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR, the accord follows a series of local discussions with citizens last autumn.

They raised concerns over the effects of 5G on energy use, health and the environment and a charter has been drawn up for consideration by the Paris Council (Conseil de Paris) in March. If approved, the 5G network will be switched on in the capital.

Defense minister Florence Parly announced four new nuclear submarines will be operational by 2035 to replace the current fleet.

Parly said via Twitter that “nuclear deterrence is the life-assurance of the nation” (La dissuasion nucléaire est l’assurance-vie de la nation) saying the launch would also reflect French industrial excellence.

The minister said last week that a nuclear-attack submarine was one of two vessels which recently patrolled in the South China Sea with Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners.

Admiral Pierre Vandier, chief-of-staff of the French navy, told a Japanese newspaper that France would also participate in joint military exercises with the US and Japan in the East China Sea in May.

In France, strong winds from the south brought with them fine sand from the Sahara.

The sky turned a deep ochre colour at sunset and sunrise as a result.

Two weeks of unusually warm weather are expected to follow this weekend.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 21 February 2021

News from France 14.2.2021

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

The focus for this week was:

Marking a year since the first Covid-19 death in Europe

A TV debate between a government minister and far-right leader Marine Le Pen

French media group Vivendi’s plans for Universal Music

a change of plans for France’s largest airport


a record loss for oil and gas major Total.

It has been a year since the first death from Covid-19 was recorded in Europe. It was the case of an 80-year Chinese tourist in Paris.

Since then there have been some three million cases and 80,000 fatalities.

The dusk to dawn curfew continues and police have reported carrying out about 600,000 checks as authorities urge people to stay home and only travel when it is absolutely necessary.

The political news of the week focussed on a TV debate between Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and far-right party leader Marine Le Pen ( Rassemblement National).

In the most recent poll of polls, Le Pen had a narrow lead (26 percent) over President Macron (24 percent) ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Thursday’s debate centered on how to deal with radical Islam and terrorism. The National Assembly is currently discussing a draft law to tackle radicalism.

Darmanin has been criticized by some for giving Le Pen a platform and status as a top election opponent by agreeing to the TV debate.

Media giant Vivendi has announced plans to spin out Universal Music Group, its biggest business, which has contracts with artists such as Lady Gaga.

In a statement at the weekend, Vivendi said the board had set a minimum valuation target of 30 billion euros for the Group which would then become independent. Vivendi would hold on to a 20 percent stake.

If the plan is approved by shareholders in March, it would give the French media group funds to buy interests in other areas.

Headed by French billionaire businessman Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi already controls leading pay-TV Groupe Canal+ and is reported have its sights set on radio station Europe 1.

Plans to expand France’s largest international airport have been scrapped because they do not fit with the government’s environmental goals.

Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport northeast of the capital is already one of the busiest in Europe. The plan had been to build a fourth terminal with an additional capacity of up to 40 million passengers per year.

Rather than increasing capacity, Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili told Le Monde that the goal should be to cut emissions.

Oil and gas major Total announced a $ 7.2 billion dollar net loss for 2020. The 66 percent drop in net profits over the previous year was blamed on the collapse in commodity prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Total is to change its name to TotalEnergies as it aims to diversify and develop renewable power and electricity production over the next decade. Oil products currently account for about half of the company’s sales.

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

News from France

For the week to Sunday 7 February 2021 a review of news from France :

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 7 February :

The focus for this week has been:

Covid travel restrictions and the vaccine roll-out

President Macron and Chancellor Merkel’s virtual press conference


European Central Bank President Christine Lagard on the economic outlook.

The French prime minister announced this week that while the Coronavirus situation remained fragile, there was no need for a new national lockdown.

Current restrictions on travel and the dusk to dawn curfew are to be maintained.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that the rate of infection had not significantly increased over the last two weeks.

He defended the slow rollout of the vaccine programme saying it was the result of the decision to begin with the most vulnerable people who live in care homes. They have accounted for nearly a third of the 77,000 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

At a joint, remote video press conference on Friday President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the European Union’s joint Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Macron said that the EU had secured doses from a number of companies. He admitted that leaders had been caught off guard by the rapid success of some vaccines. Macron told reporters: “Nobody could have known that we were going to have safe vaccines so quickly.”

According to health authorities on Saturday, 1.8 million people had received a first dose of vaccine in France.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said she did not see a “return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity before mid-2022.”

She called on EU leaders to ratify the 750-billion-euro recovery fund in time for the European Commission to borrow as planned in June and then distribute the funds.

Lagarde insisted the borrowing would need to be repaid – and that cancellation of the Covid debt was “unthinkable” and would be a violation of European treaties.

At their online press conference, Macron and Merkel also said they were “moving forward” on the development of Europe’s next-generation, combat jet.

However, the German chancellor said there were still “lots of questions to clarify” over the division of works among French and German companies.

The Future Combat Air System / Système de combat aérien du futur (FCAS) is a key part of Macron’s aim to strengthen France’s military capacity in Europe.

It is being developed by Airbus in Germany, Dassault Aviation in France and Indra IT systems in Spain.

So far governments have only approved funding for prototype and design contracts at the start of the multi-billion, 20-year project.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 7 February 2021