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

News from France – 31.1.2021

A weekly review of News from France

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 31 January:

The focus for this week was:

management of the Covid 19 virus

its effects on the economy

and other business news.

A further 400 thousand people were vaccinated against the virus this week – while the daily rate of new cases remains around 20 thousand.

The 6pm to 6am curfew continues while new measures include the closing of the country’s 400 largest shopping malls (+20,000 square meters). While the food stores inside the malls will remain open, the non-food stores are to close as from today, Sunday.

France has also closed its borders for visitors from countries outside the European Union as the government takes measures short of announcing another complete lock down.

The effects of the virus on the economy became clear this week as the national statistics office (INSEE) reported an 8.3 percent fall in GDP (produit intérieur brut PIB). The recession is the worst since the Second World War. Unemployment stands at 9 percent.

The car industry in France reported a weaker outlook. France produces just under one in ten of passenger cars made in Europe according to the French Federation of Vehicle Equipment Industries. (Fédération des industries des équipements pour véhicules (Fiev). Germany produces about one in four.

In 2020 about one and a half million passenger cars (véhicules légers) were produced in France. Over the last 15 years, China has become the world’s largest producer with some 23 million cars produced there each year.

This month, the Peugeot-Citroën group formally merged with Fiat Chrysler under the new name of “Stellantis” with headquarters in Amsterdam.

This week, rail manufacturer Alstom completed its multibillion (5.5 billion-euro) acquisition of Bombardier Transportation.

As a result, it becomes the world’s second largest rail company behind Chinese state-owned CRRC.

After a merger between Alstom and Germany’s Siemens was blocked by the EU commission in 2019, there was no such opposition to the French company acquiring Bombardier.

Alstom will gain better access to North American markets and innovations such as the monorail “people mover” developed by Bombardier. For its part, the Canadian company is to focus on building private jets.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 31 January 2021.

News from France

Weekly review of news from France in English –

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 17 January:

The focus for this week was:

The spread of Coronavirus and the slow roll out of the vaccine programme

The effects of the pandemic on the French economy

Obligatory Covid tests for travelers arriving in France from outside Europe

and other business news. 

All of France is living under a dusk to dawn curfew as a result of the latest government measures to contain the Coronavirus.

While schools remain open, people are being urged to work from home while cafes and restaurants are closed. The curfew starts at 6 p.m and is lifted at 6 a.m. daily. 

The rollout of the vaccine programme is progressing slowly. According to the government mobile app, by this weekend 413,000 people have been vaccinated while 21,000 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. 

From Monday, travelers arriving in France from outside the European space need a negative test for the Covid virus.  They also need to self-isolate for seven days on arrival, and to take a second test at the end of that period.

With unemployment at 9 percent, estimates for economic recovery have been adjusted to take into account  the slow rollout of the vaccines. The economy is not expected to tick upwards until the second half of the year. 

In related business news, the French economy minister said that the government will stop a Canadian multi-national from taking over retail giant Carrefour. 

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said “This health crisis has taught us one thing — food security has no price.”

He said the government was ready to use its new investment screening powers in the name of food security to make sure that Carrefour stays French.

Greek lawmakers approved the purchase of 18 Rafale French fighter jets this week as part of Greece’s investment in its armed forces. 

Greece has been in a dispute with Turkey over energy resources in the Mediterranean. 

The agreement for six new and 12 used Rafale jets is expected to be signed by France and Greece in January. The first deliveries are expected during the first half of the year.

And in Paris, the mayor’s office has outlined plans to reduce traffic on the Champs-Élysées from eight to four lanes, to plant trees and create more space for pedestrians in a multi-million euro project. Some of the work is due to be finished in time for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 17 January 2021.