French and Riviera News Thursday 16th March 2023

News

Decisive day for the pension reform in France – Today Thursday 16th March, is a decisive day for the French pension reform. Following the agreement on the bill, which was reached on Wednesday March 15th, by the joint committee at the National Assembly, the final version will today Thursday 16th March, be submitted to a vote by the Senate at 9am this morning and then by that of the deputies of the National Assembly this afternoon at 3pm.

The heart of the reform, which postpones the retirement age from 62 to 64, has caused widespread industrial action across France. People born on or after September 1st 1961 will be the first to be affected by the reform and will be able to claim retirement from the age of 62 and three months. In 2030, the legal age will thus reach 64 years. The postponement of the legal age is also coupled with an acceleration of the lengthening of the contribution period required to benefit from a full pension. This will be gradually increased to 43 years (i.e., 172 quarters) by 2027.

To receive a full pension, workers born from September 1st, 1961, will now have to have contributed 169 quarters or 42 years and three months, during their career, compared to the current 168 quarters or 42 years and workers born in 1965 will be the first to have to contribute for 43 years.

One flagship measure, which did not appear in the initial text is the development of the “long career” system, which allows employees and civil servants who started working early to retire early. The system to those who started working between the age of 20 and 21 years old would in theory see an early departure at 63 years old.

Ahead of today’s voting the French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he wishes for the bill to pass without having to trigger clause 49.3 which would force the reform through parliament and would be a political gamble.

Demonstrations - Meanwhile, uncollected rubbish continued to pile up on streets in France's capital as unions made an 11th-hour bid on Wednesday to stop the deeply unpopular pension reform from being passed. Opinion polls show that around two-thirds of French people are against the legislation to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, extend contributions for a full pension and scrap some special privileges for public sector employees.

According to the Ministry of the Interior the eighth day of action on Wednesday 15th March, mobilized between 480,000 demonstrators throughout France and more than 1.7 million people, according to the CGT main union.

In Nice according to the unions there were only 12,000 demonstrators while the police reported 2,900. In Toulon unions claimed 8,000 demonstrators the second weakest rally since the beginning of the industrial action against this bill.

Father justifies growing cannabis to avoid son buying from dealers - Police in the Var have seized a large quantity of cannabis in Saint-Raphael. Officers uncovered a cultivation of cannabis made up of thirty plants. Upon questioning from police, the 56 year old father claimed that he had grown the drug to avoid his son aged 32 buying it from drug dealers. Both father and son will appear before the Draguignan judicial court in October.

Wild boar shot dead by authorities - The wild boar which was seen walking on a beach in Cannes on Wednesday has been shot dead by the authorities. It was the mayor of Cannes David Lisnard, who in a tweet on Wednesday had posted a photo of the animal on the beach on the Boulevard du Midi. However, without consulting the local council and as part of a national procedure applied automatically by the State services the animal was shot dead.

Wild boars are listed as pests by law in France and are subject to treatment in urban areas by “wolfing lieutenants”. The author of the shot was indeed a lieutenant, the only person sworn in by the State to carry out this kind of operation. The mayor of Cannes has since expressed his regret indicating that he intended to ask the state services if there were no other solutions. Meanwhile, the president and founder of the One Voice association for the protection of animals said she was “speechless” adding that “these wild boars are scapegoats! In African countries, people coexist with lions yet here in in France, we won’t do the same thing”.

New speed camera - A "new high-tech” speed camera has been installed on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Withdrawn at the beginning of February, the old model has been replaced by this new updated model just after the airport, on the Promenade des Anglais eastbound. The speed limit remains at 70 km an hour.

Pay tolls set to increase again – Meanwhile, pay tolls are set to increase. On Tuesday March 14, the CEO of Vinci Autoroutes Pierre Coppey announced that there will indeed be a new increase in the price of tolls. The news comes just one month after a record increase on February 1st. According to Pierre Coppey, the hikes are a "repercussion of inflation.

Business

Stock markets across Asia fell on Thursday as troubles at international banking giant Credit Suisse intensified fears of a wider bank crisis. Major indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia fell by over 1% amid heavier losses in bank shares. This comes as Credit Suisse said it would borrow up to 50bn francs ($54bn; £44.5bn) to shore up its finances. Shares in the bank plunged after it found "weakness" in its financial reporting.

The US government says TikTok should be sold or else face a possible ban in the country. The video-sharing app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is accused of posing a national security risk through data gathered from millions of users. A request for a change in ownership, first reported in the Wall Street Journal was confirmed to BBC News by TikTok. The company said a forced sale would not change its data flows or access.

The UK’s chancellor has announced the budget for 2023 and according to independent forecaster the office for budget and responsibility the OBR, the UK will now not enter a technical recession. The OBR expects inflation to more than halve and reduce to 2.9% by the end of the year.

Sport

Football – Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp has said that they face a "massive task" to be back in the Champions League after losing 1-0 to Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Napoli cruised into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time with a comfortable 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Formula One - Ferrari's Charles Leclerc will receive a grid penalty at this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. He will have at least a 10-place drop as a result of his retirement from the season-opening race in Bahrain.

Tennis - British number one Cameron Norrie's run in Indian Wells ended with an error-strewn defeat against American Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals. Norrie, who won the event in 2021, was well below his best and beaten 6-4 6-4 by the 25-year-old 14th seed.

Golf - US PGA champion Justin Thomas has heavily criticised plans by the R&A and United States Golf Association to restrict how far golf balls fly at future elite tournaments. The rule-makers want top professional and elite amateur golf to be played using a "tournament ball" that would not fly as far as those currently in use across the game.

Cycling - Britain's Tom Pidcock will miss the Milan-San Remo race on Saturday with concussion.

Weather

Sunny with a moderate breeze. Highs of 15 degrees in Monaco and Vence. 16 degrees in Nice, Mougins and Saint-Tropez. 17 degrees in Cannes and Marseille. This evening going down to 4 degrees inland and 9 degrees along the coast with clear skies.

The outlook for Friday and heading into the weekend. Fine and sunny tomorrow and across the weekend. Moderate breeze and highs of 17 degrees.

Sunrise       06.41am

Sunset        06.37pm

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