Evening Update Thursday 22 December 2022

Several government ministers have today strongly condemned industrial action by train controllers on French media. Minister of Transport Clement Beaune said that the strike "cannot be understood by the French". Minister for Ecological Transition Christophe Bechu said that the action "damages the right to strike" and "is a loser for everyone". Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire asked the SNCF to find a solution within "the next few hours". Government spokesperson Olivier Veran asked those taking industrial action to "hear the legitimate request" of French people to be able to join their family and called on the strikers to "give up". Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi has asked the government to requisition those taking part in the industrial action, saying that the right to strike "is a constitutional right, but it cannot be done at the expense of the free movement of French people".

Industrial action by train controllers is still expected to disrupt train services over the Christmas weekend starting from tomorrow. On Saturday and Sunday, three out of five TGVs should run in the south-east and east of France and one out of two on northern and Atlantic routes. Two out of three Ouigo trains should operate, according to the SNCF.

A march has taken place to pay tribute to the victims of a fire in a suburb of Lyon last week. The "white march" took place this morning in the community of Vaulx-en-Velin. A minute's silence was observed as the march reached the burnt out apartment building in which ten people lost their lives.

The French government has announced a new bill which it said aims to control immigration and improve integration. According to reports in French media, its provisions include the creation of a one year temporary residence permit for roles which are suffering from shortages of workers and also a permit for skilled workers in the medical and pharmacy fields. The bill is expected to be debated in parliament early in the new year.

Three police officers have been injured by a car which refused to stop in Grasse. The car crashed into the officers' vehicle. A man in his twenties has been arrested in connection with the incident.

With the approach of the end-of-year celebrations, the Monaco government is recommending that everyone, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, takes a Covid test in order to protect their loved ones, in particular the most fragile. The government said that the strict application of barrier gestures during this period remains necessary to fight effectively against winter viruses and prevent a new epidemic wave.



The UK economy contracted by more than first thought in the three months to September, according to revised numbers from the Office for National Statistics. The economy contracted by 0.3%, compared with a previous estimate of 0.2%. The ONS said that gross domestic product was now estimated to be 0.8% below where it was before the pandemic began. The new figures mean that the UK has recorded the worst GDP figures in the third quarter in the G7 group of nations.

New data released today from a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce shows significant challenges for UK firms trying to use the Trade and Co-operation Agreement agreed between the UK and the EU. A high proportion of businesses responding to the survey said that they are still having major problems trying to use the deal to trade with the EU. More than three quarters of firms for which the Brexit deal is applicable said that it is not helping them increase sales or grow their business. According to the survey, more than half of firms face difficulties adapting to the new rules for trading goods. Almost half face difficulties adapting to the new rules for trading services, and a similar number report difficulties in obtaining visas for staff.

Regulated rail fares in England will rise by up to 5.9% from 5 March. The transport secretary said that the rise is being capped at a level well below inflation, "to help reduce the impact on passengers". However, the increase is still the second highest on record.



Cricket.... Jofra Archer has been named in the one-day squad to play South Africa early next year. He hasn’t played for England since March last year because of back and elbow injuries.

Rugby Union... England players Will Stuart and Tom Dunn have signed new contracts to stay at Bath for the 2023-24 season. Stuart has made more than 50 appearances for Bath since moving to the club in 2019 and has been capped 25 times by England.



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