Evening Update Wednesday 20 December 2023

French government spokesperson Oliver Veran has confirmed the resignation of Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau. The minister tendered his resignation as a result of disagreeing with the text of the immigration bill adopted yesterday. Oliver Veran said that Agnes Firmin Le Bodo, who has been in charge of territorial organization and the health professions will become Health Minister on a temporary basis.

President Macron will be interviewed on French television this evening. He'll be appearing on France 5 and according to France Televisions will be talking about the important moments of 2023 and the prospects for 2024. He's also likely to answer questions regarding the immigration legislation.

The Palace of Versailles in Paris was evacuated because of a bomb threat this morning. Reports say that about 2,000 visitors who were present were escorted from the building. No devices were discovered. There were several hoax bomb threats against the tourist attraction in the autumn with a man receiving a prison sentence in connection with one of the hoaxes.

The EU General Court has ruled that state aid given by the French government to Air-France KLM was illegal. €7bn of Covid-19 state aid was granted to Air France-KLM in 2020 and €4bn in 2021. The aim of the payments was to compensate the airline for losses related to the pandemic. The case was brought by Ryanair and Air Malta who claimed that the payments "went against the fundamental principles of EU law". Ryanair said today that it now calls on the European Commission to order France to immediately recover the state aid package from Air France-KLM and "impose adequate remedies to repair at least some of the damage to competition" done by what it called "this massive state bailout". Air France-KLM has said that it will appeal against the decision.

President Macron has appointed the current deputy director general of the National Police as the new Director General of Internal Security. Céline Berthon is the first woman to occupy the role.

Motorway operator VINCI Autoroutes has said that traffic is expected to be heavy on Friday December 22 and Saturday December 23 in the Île-de-France region, in the Rhône valley and the Mediterranean coast, as well as around large cities. In our region, on the A8, A50 and A57 motorways, traffic is expected to increase around large towns on Friday at the end of the day, then on Saturday at midday, mainly around Aix-en-Provence.

The National Police and a CRS unit have carried out a security operation in the Zaïne district of Vallauris. 28 people were checked, 3 vehicles were impounded and various mortars and narcotics were seized.

The French Department of Underwater Archaeological Research has been conducting archaeological excavations on a wreck off the coast of the Var. The Maritime Prefecture and specialist Navy divers have been working to secure historical artifacts on the site of the wreck which is located 75 meters below sea level off La Seyne-sur-Mer. The government organization, which is part of the Ministry of Culture, manages tens of thousands of maritime cultural properties found at sea or on the foreshore.

 

BUSINESS

UK inflation has fallen to its lowest level for more than two years. Prices rose by 3.9% in the year to November, down from 4.6% in October. The decrease in the rate at which prices are increasing was largely driven by a drop in fuel prices. Slowing price rises for food as well as for household goods were also behind the fall.

Japanese electronics manufacturer Toshiba has been delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange after 74 years. The company has been taken private in a deal involving a group of investors led by private equity business Japan Industrial Partners.

Frasers Group has acquired online fashion retailer Matches from Apax Partners for 52 million pounds. Frasers said that the acquisition will strengthen its luxury offering.

 

SPORT

Football... Nuno Espirito Santo has replaced Steve Cooper as manager of Nottingham Forest. He's joined on a two and a half year contract. He was formerly manager at Wolves and Tottenham before working in Saudi Arabia.

Rugby Union...Northampton Saints player Tom James has been banned for three weeks following an incident in their match against Toulon. James was cited for striking Toulon's Ben White with his head. The charge was upheld by an independent disciplinary panel.

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