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

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