Evening Update Friday 11 March 2022

President Macron has said that what he called "massive further sanctions" will be imposed on Russia if it intensifies the conflict in Ukraine. Speaking after a meeting of EU leaders in Versailles this evening, he said that in such a scenario "nothing is off the table, nothing is taboo". He added that a statement would be made by the G7 group of countries detailing further samctions in the coming hours.

The gathering, initiated by President Macron as part of France's presidency of the EU Council, discussed the strengthening of EU defences and the reduction in the EU's reliance on Russian energy. The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell Fontelles, proposed at the meeting that an additional 500 million euros be made available by the EU to purchase arms for Ukraine, in addition to the 500 million euros already allocated.

Earlier today the European Commission announced that it had transferred 300 million euros to Ukraine for  "macro-financial assistance".

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has been in Romania, near to the border with Ukraine today. He was visiting at the invitation of Romania's interior minister Lucian Bode to see help being offered by the Romanian people to Ukrainians crossing the border. He said that France and the European Union "are at their side".

The body which oversees the French Presidential elections has called on President Macron to stop using his Twitter account for election purposes. The body said that he had used the @EmmanuelMacron account mainly for presidential purposes in the past but it had noted that he recently used it to post his "letter to the French", announcing his candidacy in the election. The letter now no longer appears in the Twitter account after the electoral body requested that it be removed.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has intervened in the unrest in Corsica by negotiating between elected officials and locals. He said that he had been asked to undertake the role by President Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex and had already undertaken the first consultations in the dialogue. Demonstrations have been held on the island by Corsican sepratists in recent days after a serious assault on Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna in Arles prison. Gerald Darmanin called for calm which he said will allow a peaceful discussion on the future of Corsica as soon as possible.

Minister of the the Armed Forces Florence Parly has been in Toulon today. The minister discussed major coastal infrastructure projects, the submarine program and support for the families of soldiers and the injured.

The number of racist crimes or offences in France increased by 13 % and that of fines by 26 % in 2021 compared to 2019. A new report from the Interor Ministry says that the national police and gendarmerie services recorded 12,500 racist, xenophobic or anti-religious offenses throughout France. Four out of five racist offences recorded by the security forces were insults, provocations or public defamation.

The Alpes-Maritimes is under a Meteo France Yellow warning for high waves and flooding from 1pm to at least 4pm tomorrow, Saturday. The Var is under a Meteo France Yellow warning for high winds from 6am to at least 4pm tomorrow.

French Navy divers have been clearing Second World War munitions from the seabed off the coast of Corsica. A German bomb was located near the Aspretto naval base in Ajaccio by divers from the National Gendarmerie during a training dive. It was moved to a location further offshore in order to limit the environmental impact of its destruction.

A delegation from Monaco has taken part in the debates of the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly. More than 70 countries, including Monaco, carried a resolution aimed at putting an end to plastic pollution and drawing up a legally binding international agreement by 2024. The agreement concerns the complete lifecycle of plastic, from source to sea.

Measures affecting parking and traffic will be put in place in Nice this Saturday and Sunday because of the Paris to Nice cycle race. There will be traffic restrictions and closures affecting many roads in the centre of Nice and the Promenade des Anglais on Saturday and Sunday and in the east of the city and around the port on Sunday. Parking will be forbidden on certain streets and access to some parking garages will be restricted. You can find full details on https://www.nice.fr/fr/actualites/paris-nice-restrictions-de-circulation-et-de-stationnement/mairie?type=articles


BUSINESS

Passenger numbers at Heathrow airport last month remained nearly 50% down on pre-pandemic levels. Only 2.8 million passengers travelled through the UK airport during February, which was 15% below forecasts. It said that outbound leisure demand is recovering strongly and countries are starting to remove travel restrictions. However demand from inbound leisure and business travel remains suppressed by the testing and quarantine requirements that are still in place in nearly two-thirds of the markets it serves. However, the airport said it is gearing up for the summer by recruiting new employees. It forecast that peak days in the summer holidays could be very busy, at up to 85% of pre-pandemic levels.

The UK economy bounced back in January, growing by 0.8% after falling by 0.2% in December when the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and restrictions had a more significant impact. The Office for National Statistics said that UK GDP is 0.8% above its pre-coronavirus level of February 2020. However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the conflict in Ukraine means significant uncertainty for the UK economy. Business organization the British Chambers of Commerce warned today that the invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of a recession "by exacerbating the already acute inflationary squeeze on consumers and businesses and derailing the supply of critical commodities".

 

SPORT

Rugby Union... The 4th round of the 6 Nations Championship is happening this weekend. France play Wales in Cardiff tonight while tomorrow Italy host Scotland in Rome and England play Ireland at Twickenham. England lock Maro Itoje was unwell overnight, but scrum coach Matt Proudfoot said that he is "really optimistic" he will be able to play in tomorrow's match.

Motorsports... It's day two of the second session of pre-season Formula 1 testing in Bahrain. Williams driver Nicholas Latifi only managed twelve laps before there was a fire at the back of his car. He later Tweeted that repairs were underway and he was looking forward to returning to the track for the final day of testing tomorrow.

Football... In the English Premier League this weekend, on Saturday Brighton play Liverpool, Brentford host Burnley and Manchester United play Spurs. On Sunday Chelsea play Newcastle, Everton host Wolves, Leeds play Norwich, Southampton host Watford, West Ham play Aston Villa and Arsenal play Leicester. Crystal Palace play Manchester City on Monday.

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