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

and

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

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