Evening Update Wednesday 15 March 2023

The joint committee of deputies and senators in the French parliament has adopted the highly controversial clause 7 of the pensions bill, which postpones the retirement age from 62 to 64 years of age. The National Assembly will have a final vote on the bill. Meanwhile, the eighth day of protest against the government's pension reforms has been taking place today. Demonstrations were held across our region. As usual, estimates of the number of protestors taking part varied between the police and the unions. In Marseille, the police put numbers at 7,000 but unions claimed it was 160,000. In Nice, demonstrators gathered on Place Massena this morning before marching through the city. Reports across France suggest that numbers of demonstrators marching were generally less than previous days of mobilisation. The government said that the number of employees in the civil service taking industrial action was less than last Tuesday's day of action. Power company EDF said that just over 22 per cent of its employees were participating earlier today, compared with about 41 per cent last Tuesday.

Protesting union members cut the power to Fort Bregancon in the Var, an official residence of the President. Unions have said that no ferries between Marseille and Corsica will operate until the weekend. Train services are once again disrupted today and tomorrow by ongoing industrial action. The SNCF have said that trains will also be disrupted on Friday.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi has held a meeting with the Minister of Industry Roland Lescure. The two discussed the industrial challenges of France and the Metropolis of Nice. The mayor described the exchanges as "fruitful".

Anthony Borre has appealed to central government for more powers for mayors to deal with squatters. The Nice deputy mayor and president of public housing body Cote d'Azur Habitat was speaking in an interview with newspaper Le Figaro. In a social media post earlier this week he said that the city of Nice had been asking for several weeks for public money to evacuate a squat at 56 route de Turin, which the city had to deal with at its own expense.

Corsican nationalists have occupied the administrative court building in Bastia in an apparent protest against the banning of the Corsican language. Protestors hung a banner reading "Corsican language, living language". Last week a court ruled that the use of the Corsican language in debates in the local Assembly was against the French constitution.

BUSINESS

European banking shares fell earlier today as investors remain nervous following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the US last week. The failure of SVB has raised fears that other banks could also be facing problems. Shares in Swiss bank Credit Suisse hit a new low after its largest investor said it would not give the bank any more financial help.

The UK's Office of Budget Responsibility has forecast that inflation will fall from 10.7% to 2.9% by the end of this year, according to UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt who was delivering his budget to Parliament this afternoon. After the Chancellor's speech, the OBR released its assessment of the UK economy in which it said that the outlook for the economy had "brightened somewhat" since its last assessment last November.

 

SPORT

Rugby League.... Former Hull FC director Tony Sutton has been appointed the new chief executive of the Rugby Football League in the UK. He had been interim chief executive following the departure of Ralph Rimmer in December.

Australia's National Rugby League has introduced tighter concussion protocols. Players with so-called 'category one' symptoms in matches or training will now have to stand down for at least 11 days. They could have previously returned within a week if cleared by an independent medical expert.

 

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