Evening Update Thursday 17 March 2022

Demonstrations have been taking place across France in protest at the rising cost of living. Strike action is affecting trains in the Grand Est and Occitanie regions but other train services are expected to be largely unaffected. Numbers published by the Education Ministry put the number of teachers participating in strike action at around 2%.

Emmanuel Macron has said that "full employment" is achievable in five years. Outlining a wide range of measures he proposes to adopt if he is re-elected as president, he said that he wanted to reform the pole emploi to become a "one stop shop" for jobseekers. As regards education, he said that he would like to offer more freedom for educational establishments and more transparency for students and parents. He added that he wishes to gradually increase the retirement age to 65, which he said was a normal result of increased life expectancy. He said that he wants to strengthen the independence of France with greater development of the military, in particular the number of reservists and investment in technology, and increases in energy and industrial production.

French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian has spoken with Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba today. He confirmed that a €300 million financial assistance package for Ukraine will be released in the coming days. They also discussed the humanitarian aid provided by France to people both inside and outside Ukraine who are affected by the war.

 

Cross-channel ferry operator P&O Ferries has warned of significant disruption to services over the coming days. This afternoon it announced that it was dismissing 800 seafaring staff with immediate effect. It said it would compensate the workers for losing their jobs at short notice. P&O said its survival was dependent on "making swift and significant changes now". The company's ships stayed in port today pending the release of the announcement. P&O operates ferry services to and from Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland as well as France.

A major seizure of contraband cigarettes has been made by authorities in Marseilles. 1,800 packets of cigarettes were seized from a car as well as several thousand euros in cash. One person was arrested.

A Renault car plant in north-east France will temporarily close from next Monday. Over 2,000 employees will be affected by the move which is the result of a lack of availability of parts.

It's been announced that Tom Cruise will be at the Cannes Film Festival this year. His film "Maverick: Top Gun" will be screened at the festival and the actor will be honored with a career retrospective event. The festival is taking place from 17 to 28 May.

 

BUSINESS

The Bank of England has raised interest rates to 0.75% from 0.5%. The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 in favor of the rate rise.
The head of UK retailer John Lewis has said that the UK may experience double digit inflation. Speaking to the BBC Sharon White said that she is concerned that inflation ends up "being more enduring than anyone expects".

Online grocery delivery company Ocado has reported a fall in sales as customers return to pre-pandemic shopping habits. In the three months to the end of February, retail sales fell by 5.7%. It said the return to office working and restaurant dining had reduced demand. It said that it now expects annual retail revenue growth "closer to 10%", rather than in the mid-teens, as it had previously forecast.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union...Finn Russell is on the bench for Scotland's game away to Ireland on Saturday. Blair Kinghorn will start at number 10. Second-row Jonny Gray replaces Exeter colleague Sam Skinner in the only other change from the game against Italy.

 

Motorsports... Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel is out of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19. He'll be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg.

Football... England manager Gareth Southgate has announced his squad for the friends against Switzerland and Ivory Coast this month. He's called up uncapped Crystal Palace player Marc Guehi. Fellow Crystal Palace player Conor Gallagher has been recalled as has Arsenal defender Ben White. However, Kyle Walker and Marcus Rashford have both been left out.

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