French and Riviera News Thursday 10th December 2020

News

Man placed in police custody for manslaughter - A 40-year-old man has been placed in police custody in Nice for “manslaughter”. On Wednesday evening the Nice public prosecutor's office confirmed that the arrest was in connection with the death of 24-year-old Alexander a week ago. The investigation suggests that the death was caused by a large amount of GBL. An autopsy is still to determine, more precisely, the cause of death.

Storm Alex - The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has announced that 2 million euros has now been raised to help in reconstruction works after Storm Alex. In total, 528,787 euros in cash donations and just over 1.4 million euros of in-kind donations were collected from more than 500 donors. The mayor added that he'd like to thank the collective “Les Week-ends solidaires”, an initiative that brings together hundreds of volunteers in the valleys to help victims of the storm.

Tribute to former French President - HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has attended a ceremony at the Maison de France in memory of the former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing who died on December 2nd. During Wednesday’s ceremony a minute of silence was observed, meanwhile in France a day of national mourning was held in memory of the former President.

Blue chairs are back - Some of the famous blue chairs have returned to the seafront in Nice. The chairs were completely removed last month in the fight against the virus and a reduced number are now back in place with every other seat being cordoned off for social distancing.

Lockdown - With the end of lockdown scheduled for December 15th, the figures for the coronavirus epidemic have not yet reached the target announced by French President Emmanuel Macron. Following the meeting with the Defence Council on Wednesday there is speculation as to what will be the next stage announced today at 6pm by the Prime Minister Jean Castex. One possibility, which is reported to be the most likely option, is that the lockdown will be lifted but a curfew from 7pm will be introduced and theatres, cinemas and museums will remain closed. The Prime Minister is also expected to announce the situation for ski resorts which was presented to the highest court in France, the State Council on Wednesday.  

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s press conference on the health situation, Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Paris has called for Jean Castex to be “clear with the French people”, adding that “he must say that unfortunately, we did not achieve the goal we had set”. A poll published by Elabe has shown that as weariness sets in, despite the hope of a vaccine, the trust in the Head of State from the French has dropped 12 points over the last two weeks with only 36% of French trusting the government to fight effectively against Covid-19.

Anti-separatism bill - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced details of a controversial "anti-separatism" bill which the government presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. The Prime Minister has said that the bill aims to counter radical Islamism and President Macron has said that it aims to counter attempts to establish "a counter-society". The title of the bill refers to "consolidating the principles of the Republic". The bill contains a large range of measures including increased control over associations and places of worship, restrictions on home education and measures to control online hate speech.

Road safety - New figures released on Wednesday have shown a large drop in the number of deaths on French roads in November compared to the same month last year. Surete Routiere said that 170 people lost their lives, a fall of 33.9%, a figure which the organization said was strongly impacted by the imposition of a second confinement. The number of cyclists and motorcyclists who died remained similar this November compared to last November.

Catholic Church suffers fall in income - The French Catholic Church has suffered a large fall in income because of the pandemic. In its annual financial report presented on Wednesday, the church said that there had been a net loss estimated at 90 million euros caused by the full or partial closure of places of worship as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

The sex life of the French improves compared to first lockdown - An IFOP poll published on Wednesday has revealed that the sex life of the French has improved compared to the first lockdown. Figures showed that 70% of French people had sex in November, 14 points more compared to the first lockdown. Three quarters of French people say that the second confinement went "better" than that of last spring with their spouse. Likewise, more French people claim to have had sex in Autumn, partly thanks to working remotely and the absence of children at home.

Business

Talks between the UK and European Union over a post-Brexit trade deal will continue until Sunday as time runs out for the two sides to reach an agreement. On Wednesday night, the British Prime Minister and the president of the European Commission held three hours of talks over a working dinner in Brussels but both sides said afterwards that “large differences remain”. Ursula von der Leyen said that the two sides are still “very far apart” but she’s instructed the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to “carry on talking” to his UK counterpart Lord David Frost until Sunday when she said that an announcement one way or the other would have to be made. Major disagreements remain on fishing rights, business competition and how a deal would be regulated. The UK side said that there had been a “frank discussion about the significant obstacles which remain in the negotiations” but that “very large gaps remain between the two sides and it’s still unclear whether they can be bridged”.

US regulators and more than 45 state prosecutors are suing Facebook with accusations that the social media giant acted illegally to buy up rivals and stifle competition. Officials are to consider asking a federal court to break up the firm which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook says that the deals coming under scrutiny were approved by regulators years ago and that the US government is trying to backtrack. The firm says that anti-trust laws exist to protect consumers and promote innovation, not to punish successful businesses. The lawsuits focus on Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram and its 2014 purchase of WhatsApp as well as rules governing outside software developers. Officials have accused the social media giant of taking a “buy or bury” approach to potential rivals, hurting both competitors and users who they say have lost control over their own data to support Facebook’s advertising revenue.

The United States has said that the UK has “no authority” to impose tariffs as part of an aircraft subsidies row after leaving the European Union. The news comes after Britain said that it would drop tariffs against the United States over subsidies for aerospace firms as part of a bid to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington. Last month, the European Union imposed 25 percent tariffs on 4 billion dollars worth of US goods in retaliation for illegal state aid given to the aerospace giant Boeing. The UK government said that it would suspend those tariffs after the first of January but the United States says that Britain has no right to impose tariffs anyway. The US