French and Riviera News Friday 27th January 2023

News

Trade unions - The CGT trade union has called on port and power workers, as well as those in the refinery and petrol distribution sector, to down tools in opposition to government plans to abolish special pension deals for some workers. A planned series of nationwide strikes are due next Tuesday and Wednesday in France meanwhile, French energy, fuel and dock workers who are members of the CGT union relaunched their industrial action on Thursday resulting in facilities being closed for 48 hours, depending on the local level of support.

The CGT says the oil distribution depot in Flandre in the north of France is completely shut down, with 80 percent of workers heeding the strike call in the refinery in Normandy. According to trade union sources Oil imports have been blocked by strikers in some French ports. The port strikes are scheduled to last 24 hours.

Queues of worried motorists formed outside some Paris petrol stations early on Thursday. However, power cuts and petrol shortages are unlikely to result from the current phase of strike action, though electricity production may have to be slightly reduced. The disputed legislation, which will be presented to parliament on Monday for debate, includes clauses which would abolish the special pension rights of workers, notably in the electricity generation sector. Other contested changes include the extension of the retirement age from 62 to 64, and the obligation for workers to contribute more to the system during their working lives if they wish to qualify for a full pension.

Next week's national strike action in protest against the proposed reform is expected to close schools, disrupt public transport and cause delays in civil service offices. Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has promised to shut the doors of the city hall on Tuesday in a symbolic gesture of support for the strikers.

Thursday also saw what’s been described as a “Robin Hood” movement from the CGT as they made gas and electricity free for schools, those living in social housing or HLM (habitations à loyer modéré) and hospitals.

France’s Foreign Minister in port of Odesa - France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna has visited Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa on Thursday, to discuss how France can help the country as it fights Russia's attack on its independence. The minister, however, did not say that there were plans to send French-made tanks. Western observers fear that Russian forces may launch a determined assault on the city, which is vital to the continued export of Ukrainian grain. The historic centre of Odesa was this week recognised by Unesco as a world heritage site.

Security at 2024 Olympic Games – Meanwhile, France’s Interior Minister has said that he could not exclude bringing in the army to ensure security at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. This week Gérald Darmanin spoke of the problems organisers were experiencing in recruiting the 22,000 private agents needed to secure the Games.

Appeal from the Alpes-Maritimes to the French government - The Alpes-Maritimes department has made an urgent appeal to the French government for help, saying it can no longer cope with the surge in the number of migrants entering France from Italy. The departmental council's president Charles-Ange Ginésy said local reception centres were beyond saturated - and the state needed to do more to help unaccompanied minors in particular. His comments come after it was revealed this week that 18 young migrants were being detained by French border police in a 25-square-metre portacabin in Menton due to a lack of reception space.

“The Iconic” project - The offices of several deputies of the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, have been searched by police. According to reports, searches were carried out on Thursday afternoon as part of an investigation for "influence peddling, organized fraud, abuse of corporate and forged assets and the use of forgery" concerning the “Iconic” project, a 19,000 m² real estate complex designed by the American architect Daniel Libeskind, which includes a "4-star" Hilton hotel with 105 rooms, offices and shops.  

The Paris prosecutor's office has specified that the searches follow a judicial investigation opened in November 2022 by the National Jurisdiction in charge of the fight against crime (JUNALCO). In Nice, the Iconic site is almost complete. Delivery is expected "at the latest" in April.

Companies fined for letting people swim with dolphins - Fines have been handed to three companies on the Côte d'Azur which offered to swim with dolphins in the Mediterranean, an activity which is now prohibited. For 300 euros per person the companies based in Mandelieu-la-Napoule and Antibes, in the Alpes-Maritimes, offered to jump into the water, in the open sea, with a mask and snorkel and swim amongst the dolphins using a microlight. However, since a decree in 2021, it is forbidden in France to approach within 100 meters of a dolphin and even more so to swim with them.  The three operators, who appeared on December 14th before the Grasse criminal court, were found guilty on Thursday of "disturbance of a protected non-domesticated animal species" and "deceptive commercial practice".

Prince Albert II once again tests positive for Covid-19 - The Prince's Palace has announced that Prince Albert II has tested positive for Covid-19. This is the third time that Prince Albert II has been infected with this coronavirus. In a statement the palace said that " his state of health does not raise any concern. He works remotely, in permanent contact with the members of his cabinet, his government as well as with his close collaborators" specifying that "the period of isolation will adapt to the health rules in force".

Prince Albert did indeed cancel his presence this week at the gala of the 45th International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo and will also not be able to preside over the ceremonies of Sainte Dévote being held in the Principality today. However, in Prince Albert’s absence Thursday’s ceremonies saw Princess Charlene and her children take part in Sainte Devote celebrations with the boat burning tradition a ritual to mark the festivities in honour of the patron saint of Monaco.

No televised debate ahead of national elections in Monaco - It’s been announced that ahead of the national elections in Monaco there will be no televised debate. The televised debate which would have allowed the New Ideas for Monaco (NIM) and L’Union lists to confront each other with a view to the national elections on February 5th will not take place.

On January 21st, the two list representatives had been officially informed by the coordinating committee of the television election campaign of the possibility to hold a televised debate. However, through a press release published following a final meeting between the committee and the representatives of the two candidate lists for the 2023 national elections, regarding the televised debate, the committee took note that the representatives of the lists were unable to agree on who to designate to take part. Consequently, no televised debate will be taking place.

Ms Isabelle Costa appointed High Commissioner for European Affairs - Finally, H.S.H. Prince Albert II has chosen to entrust the continuation of the negotiation of an Association Agreement with the European Union to Ms Isabelle COSTA, currently Advisor to His Cabinet. Ms. COSTA is appointed High Commissioner for European Affairs as of February 1, 2023. A graduate of Sciences-Po Aix, Costa has held various positions in Monegasque diplomacy before being appointed Deputy Secretary General of the Government in charge of the Europe Unit in 2016. HSH the Prince recalls that the Principality of Monaco is a privileged partner of the European Union, sharing common values concerning in particular human rights, the rule of law, the preservation of peace and the environment.

Business

The US economy did better than expected at the end of last year, despite higher borrowing costs and rising cost of living dragging on growth. Official figures show that the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.9% in the last three months of 2022. That was down from 3.2% in the previous quarter.  Some analysts are worried that the US economy is headed for recession, although the jobs market has held up. The unemployment rate is hovering around historic lows, but other parts of the economy have been weakening. In December, normally a big month for consumer spending, retail sales dropped 1.1% from a month earlier.

Boeing has told a court in the US that it was not guilty of concealing information about flight control systems on its 737 Max aircraft, which led to two crashes, killing 346 people. Flaws in the systems were found to have led to the accidents, but Boeing avoided a trial by agreeing to pay $2.5bn (£1.8bn). Now relatives of those who died are trying to reopen the settlement. They are due to confront the aircraft giant in court. The hearing marks the first time Boeing has been forced to answer to the fraud charge in a public court, after the judge hearing the case ruled that those killed in the planes were legally "crime victims" and should have been involved in settlement negotiations.

And – In the UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will set out his plan to boost growth today, as criticism mounts over the government's plan for the economy. In his speech in central London, Mr Hunt will outline the opportunities in what he called "the growth sectors which will define this century". He will also pledge to build on "the freedoms which Brexit provides". His speech comes in a week in which the government has faced accusations that it has no long-term plan for growth.

Sport

Formula One - New Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur says it is "obvious" that his target is to win the title this year. The 54-year-old, who began work in his role on 9 January, says he has already started analysis of the weaknesses that derailed Ferrari's 2022 campaign.

Football – Gareth Southgate has said that he considered stepping down as England boss because of criticism he faced before the World Cup. England were knocked out of the tournament by France in the quarter-finals, 18 months after losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties at Wembley.

In the fourth round of the FA Cup this evening Manchester City play Arsenal. Kick off is at 9pm French time.

Rugby Union - As the debate over the tackle law continues. England's most-capped male player Ben Youngs insists the rewards of rugby union outweigh the risks. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced last week the legal tackle height will be lowered to the waist. The law change affects all levels below the Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s from July. The announcement led to a fierce backlash from the community game, who weren't consulted over the move.

Golf - Only 12 of the 132-man field were able to complete the first-round of a weather-affected opening to the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday. Heavy overnight rain left the course unplayable for more than six hours at the start of the day, before bad light later led to play being suspended.

Weather

Sunny intervals expected along the coast. Highs of 12 degrees in Nice and Cannes. 11 degrees in Monaco and Mougins with a moderate breeze. This evening going down to 4 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for the weekend. Sunny intervals on Saturday. Fine on Sunday highs of between 11-13 degrees.

Sunrise       07.52hr

Sunset        17.33hr

And Finally

The US space agency Nasa says we have nothing to worry about. The cosmic rock is nine metres wide and weighs as much as a shipping container – and it's going to miss the southern tip of South America by at least 3,600 kilometres. This particular asteroid will pass so close to Earth that it will be inside the vast majority of manmade geostationary satellites as it sizzles through the upper atmosphere. It is unromantically named 2023 BU. The separation gap of just 3,600 kilometres is the closest approach ever recorded. That's less than the distance separating Dublin from Moscow, or the distance the Tesla electric car can travel on six full recharges. In a statement Nasa said that there is no risk that the asteroid will hit Earth.

 

 

 

 

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