French & Riviera News - Wednesday January 31st

FARMING CRISIS

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stood firm in support of the country's farming sector amid widespread protests by farmers around Paris. In his inaugural major address to the National Assembly, M. Attal praised agriculture as a cornerstone of French identity and tradition, underscoring its importance beyond just food production.

However, farmers have criticized the lack of tangible action behind Attal's words, particularly regarding the disparities in agricultural norms across Europe and the insufficiency of financial support proposals. Attal's promises regarding the reuse of fines collected from industries and distributors not complying with production cost laws were met with skepticism.

The so-called siege of Paris continues as the convoy makes it’s way towards the Rungis, the vital food market of the Ile-de-France region.

President Macron is expected to discuss the crisis at an upcoming meeting in Brussels, defending the EU's agricultural policy as vital for the survival of European farmers.

 

LOCAL SUPPLY CHAINS

How are the strikes affecting us on the French Riviera? So far in Alpes Maritimes and the Var, there have just been minor disruptions in supply chains. Notably, the Casino Group has reported supply difficulties in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur area due to these blockades. While the overall impact on provisioning in these departments remains slight, there is still a risk if the protests are prolonged?

 

ATTAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

In other announcements from the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday, highlights include a planned reform for low wages aimed at moving beyond reliance on the minimum wage system, emphasizing the need for a shift from decades-old practices that have inadvertently stifled economic incentives for wage increases at the minimum wage level. Attal detailed the financial burdens on employers and employees under the current system and pledged to address these issues in the upcoming finance bill.

 

Furthermore, Attal announced the phasing out of the Specific Solidarity Allowance (ASS) for unemployed individuals at the end of their rights, proposing a transition to the Active Solidarity Income (RSA) and calling for a review of unemployment insurance rules if financial trajectories deviate. This move aims to combat inactivity traps and reinforce the principle that retirement benefits should be earned through work.

 

The Prime Minister also signalled a future step in labor law reform, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), allowing for more direct negotiation of certain rules at the company level, post-summer. These measures and reforms are part of the government's broader objective to achieve full employment and address critical issues in housing, health, education, and agriculture sectors.

 

POLICE BONUS

France has announced a special incentive for its police force ahead of the Paris Olympics. Officers are set to receive a one-time bonus of up to €1,900, a move by the interior ministry to avert potential strike actions during the games. This decision comes after demands for better compensation from various public-sector workers, including those in security, healthcare, and transportation, who will forgo their summer holidays to accommodate the influx of visitors for the Olympics.

The announcement follows recent protests and is part of France's efforts to ensure a smooth and secure experience for the global event, reflecting the country's rich cultural heritage and excellence in various fields. With the country still recovering from past protests and strikes, the government aims to prevent any disruptions that could tarnish the image of the first Summer Olympics hosted by France in a century.

 

AIR BNB

French lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at reducing the tax incentives for short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb, as part of efforts to alleviate the housing crisis.

The legislation slashes the tax deduction rate for rental income from these properties and mandates energy performance assessments. It also grants mayors new regulatory powers, including the ability to limit the number of rental days for primary residences. The move responds to concerns that short-term rentals are taking away long-term housing options, with specific measures already in place in some cities to limit their impact.

The bill's adoption, which saw broad support but faced opposition from some quarters, is seen as a significant step towards addressing the housing shortage and improving the quality of life in affected communities.

 

FATAL FIRE

In a tragic incident in Marseille, a devastating fire broke out in an apartment building, claiming the life of a 7-year-old child and leaving four others in critical condition. The fire, which occurred early yesterday morning in the city's 15th district, also resulted in 16 hospitalizations.

A staggering force of 90 firefighters and 30 vehicles were deployed to combat the blaze, which was notably characterized by thick and toxic smoke, likely contributing to the high casualty rate.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but residents have highlighted longstanding concerns about the building's safety, citing its insalubrious condition and overcrowding issues. An investigation is currently underway to ascertain the precise circumstances of the tragedy.

 

ILLEGAL DOCTOR

In Nice, a woman has been given a one-year suspended sentence for illegally practicing medicine after offering alternative treatments known as "wet cupping" or "hijama," which is popular in the Muslim community. She claimed to cure various ailments, including depression and diabetes, through her clinic.

While "dry cupping" is allowed, "wet cupping," which involves skin incisions carries health risks. The woman denied all charges, including illegal medical practice and money laundering, although she did admit to a mistake in her advertising, stating she should have used "relieve" instead of "cure."

Despite criticisms from two patients, no formal complaints were filed against her. The court fined her 3,000 euros and ordered her to pay 2,000 euros to the Medical Association, also banning her from any medical-related activities for five years. She plans to appeal the decision.

 

LORRY ACCIDENT

A serious traffic incident occurred when a moving truck collided with a stationary truck on a major road in central Mandelieu. The driver of the parked truck was collecting part of his fallen cargo when the accident happened. Emergency services, including firefighters and law enforcement, quickly secured the area, leading to a significant traffic jam as Jean-Mermoz Avenue was closed in both directions.Two men in their thirties were affected; one suffered minor injuries, while the other, trapped in his vehicle, sustained more severe injuries and has been taken to Pasteur 2 Hospital.

 

GOODBYE MADEMOISELLE

In a significant step towards gender equality, France has officially banned the use of terms like "maiden name" and "Mademoiselle" on official documents, advocating for the consistent use of gender-neutral language.

Despite this progress, French feminist organizations argue that these outdated terms are still too prevalent in society. Groups like Osez le féminisme and Chiennes de garde have launched a platform 'Non de jeune fille' to combat the persistent use of these terms, labelling it as "symbolic violence" against women.

This move is part of a broader push for gender equality in France, dating back to the 1970s, and includes efforts to promote inclusive writing and recognize feminine forms for professional titles in official documentation. These initiatives are intended to reinforce France's ongoing commitment to eradicating discrimination and promoting equality between men and women.

 

OPERA CASTING

Have you ever dreamt of appearing in an opera? Well, here's a golden opportunity coming up in Nice and Antibes! The upcoming production of Puccini's Madame Butterfly is on the lookout for extras. If you have some theatrical experience under your belt, this might just be your chance to peek behind the scenes of an opera production, and get paid for it too! The production needs 10 female extras (of Asian descent) aged between 20 and 40, and 2 (black) male extras aged between 25 and 35, with a good physical condition to handle heavy lifting. More details are on our website

All extras should have some theatrical experience and must either reside in or around Nice and Antibes or have their own transport if living further away. This casting call is in search of specific physical profiles to match the geographical and cultural origins of the characters, set in Nagasaki. The casting will take place on February 6th at 6 PM in Nice. Rehearsals in Nice are scheduled from February 21st to March 4th, with performances on the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th of March. Antibes will host shows on March 15th and 17th, and there's also a performance lined up at the Vichy Opera House on March 24th, requiring availability from March 21st to 25th. If you're interested and fit the criteria, don't miss out on this unique opportunity to be part of a classic opera!

 

SPORT

Football

There were 5 games in the Premier League last night. Arsenal  closed the gap on the leaders Liverpool with a hard-fought victory over Nottingham Forest. Arsenal are two points behind Liverpool in the title race and the two teams meet on Sunday at the Emirats Stadium

Elsewhere, Aston Villa were beaten at home for the first time this season. Fabian Schar scored twice as Newcastle ended a run of four consecutive Premier League defeats with a tenacious 3-1 victory.

Perhaps the biggest surprise cam at Kenilworth Road where Luton beat high-flying Brighton by 4-0. Luton were 1-0 after 18 seconds (and they didn’t even kick-off), then 2-0 within 3 minutes. The Hatters have now moved out of the relegation zone.

Everton drop into the bottom three after  adull 0-0 draw away to Fulham and Crystal Palace are backto winning ways winning 3-2 against Sheffield United

In tonight’s games, Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield, Man City are at home to Burnley and Spurs host Brentford.

 

There was yet another shock in the African Cup of Nations as World Cup semi-finalists Morocco were knocked out by South Africa. Africa’s top ranked side were beaten 2-0 last night, so it’s South Africa who will now play Cap Verdi in the Quarter Finals.

 

Rugby Union

6 Nations starts this weekend

Fly-half Marcus Smith has been ruled out of England's Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday with a calf injury. 

His absence means Northampton's in-form Fin Smithis set to make his international debut in the Stadio Olimpico. 

England will confirm their starting XV and replacements on Thursday evening.

 

Basketball

Tonight you can give some support to Monaco’s basketball team. La Roca are

At home to Partizan Belgrade, a team they have never beaten in the Euroleague, but tonight they are feeling confident. Match starts at 7pm this evening at the Salle Gaston Medecin

Monaco are currently 6th in the Euroleague

 

 

BUSINESS

EUROZONE ECONOMY STAGNANT

Europe's economy hit a standstill at the end of 2023, marking over a year of economic stagnation. Despite a slight improvement from a 0.1% contraction in the previous quarter, the Eurozone saw zero growth in the last quarter, influenced by high energy costs, increased credit prices, and Germany's downturn.

Business activity indicators suggest continued economic challenges, exacerbated by shipping disruptions in the Red Sea impacting global trade. In contrast, the U.S. experienced a 0.8% growth in the same period.

Despite the stagnation, there are positives: unemployment is at record lows and energy prices have decreased from their peaks, easing some concerns over inflation which has also seen a decline.

However, the European Central Bank's high interest rates have dampened business investments. Germany, Europe's largest economy, faced a 0.3% shrinkage in the fourth quarter due to various challenges, including higher fuel prices and skilled labor shortages. While some improvement is expected with falling inflation and potential interest rate cuts, uncertainties remain, particularly with ongoing global trade disruptions that could affect inflation and delay economic recovery.

 

IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has "advised the UK against further tax cuts", as it launched its latest assessment of the world economy.

It said preserving public services and investment implied higher spending than was reflected in the government's current plans.The IMF suggested the Treasury's pencilled-in spending cuts from this year were unrealistic.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said tax cuts could be a big help in boosting growth. Mr Hunt has hinted heavily about more tax cuts in his upcoming Budget in March.

Meanwhile the IMF has adjusted its growth forecast for France in 2024, lowering it from 1.3% to 1%. This revision aligns France's growth expectations closer to those of other major forecasters, with the OECD projecting a 0.8% growth and the Bank of France expecting 0.9%.

This comes after a 0.9% GDP growth in 2023, despite the French government's more optimistic prediction of 1.4% for 2024. This adjustment also reflects a broader trend of economic caution within the Eurozone, as the IMF expresses a more pessimistic outlook for the region as a whole.

 

PAYPAL

PayPal has announced a significant reduction of its workforce, cutting 2,500 jobs or 9% of its global employees, in response to increasing competition in the digital payments sector. This move comes as PayPal aims to streamline operations. CEO Alex Chriss, has emphasized  the necessity to "right-size" the organization by not only reducing current roles but also by not filling vacant positions.

This development is part of a broader trend in the tech industry, where major players like Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have also announced substantial layoffs, totaling 25,000 job cuts in the last month alone.

The sector witnessed over 260,000 job losses last year, attributed to post-pandemic adjustments and economic challenges. Amidst this backdrop, PayPal is striving to rejuvenate its business, highlighted by the introduction of new AI-driven products and features, aiming for a turnaround after a challenging period marked by a significant drop in share price.

 

UPS CUTS

Parcel delivery firm, UPS, a, announced a significant reduction in its workforce, planning to cut 12,000 jobs. This decision comes after a challenging year marked by economic downturns and labor disputes which led to a decline in customer base.

 CEO Carol Tomé described 2023 as "difficult and disappointing" and revealed the company's investment in artificial intelligence to improve efficiency. Tomé also reinstated a five-day office workweek for staff.

These job cuts, primarily affecting management and contractors, aim to save UPS around $1 billion this year.

The  company's performance, often viewed as a reflection of the broader economy, suffered last year due to reduced package volumes, stemming from economic weaknesses in Europe and Asia and a potential strike in the U.S. Although UPS has regained about 60% of the lost business, its growth forecast remains modest and below analysts' expectations, causing a more than 7% drop in shares.

 

TESLA RULING

A judge in Delaware has invalidated a monumental $55.8 billion compensation package granted to Elon Musk by Tesla in 2018, deeming it excessively generous. The challenge was initiated by a Tesla shareholder, leading to Judge Kathaleen McCormick's conclusion that Tesla's board's approval process was fundamentally flawed.

Musk, expressing his displeasure, advised against incorporating businesses in Delaware on X, a platform he owns. The pay deal, a record in corporate history, had positioned Musk among the world's wealthiest individuals. Despite Tesla directors' defense that the package aimed to secure Musk's continued innovation for Tesla, the judge found the shareholder vote on the matter uninformed, citing Musk's significant influence over the board.

The ruling, highlighting the "unfathomable" size of Musk's compensation, raises questions about the fairness to shareholders and the impartiality of the negotiating process.

The decision is subject to appeal, and following the news, Tesla's stock saw a 3% drop in extended trading, continuing its 20% decline this year.

 

SKY

Sky is planning to cut about 1,000 jobs in the UK this year, as the media group moves towards more internet-based services. 

It is understood a significant number will be engineers, as fewer people require satellite dishes to be installed at home.

Sky currently employs about 26,000 people in the UK.

The cuts announced on Tuesday represent about 4% of its workforce.

The rise in digital products on offer means many customers can now set up new services without any assistance.

 

WEATHER

Mostly sunny today with occasional passing clouds and a slight drop in temperatures compared to previous days.

Light winds reaching 12 km/h from the N NW

Highs of 15° in Monaco and Cannes. 16° around St Tropez dropping to an overnight low of around 4-5°

 

Sunrise 7:51

Sunset 17:38

Last local news

French and Riviera News Thursday 29th February 2024

France is on its way to become the first country to enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in its constitution. Abortion has been legal in France sin... French and Riviera News Thursday 29th February 2024 Read More

29/02/2024

Evening Update Wednesday 28 February 2024

France's Senate is set to vote on a bill to anchor abortion rights in to the constitution. An election promise initiated by President Macron, the bill... Evening Update Wednesday 28 February 2024 Read More

28/02/2024

Post office in Cap d’Ail set to close

Despite a petition, the Cap-d'Ail post office will close for good next September. To the great dismay of local residents who have launched an online p... Post office in Cap d’Ail set to close Read More

28/02/2024

Apple branded vehicles in the Principality to update navigation apps

Today Wednesday 28th February and tomorrow Thursday 29th February, you may spot an “Apple” branded vehicle in or around Monaco. Why? Well, the vehicle... Apple branded vehicles in the Principality to update navigation apps Read More

28/02/2024

Seven people injured in apartment fire in the Var

Seven people have been injured, including two seriously, in an apartment fire in Hyères in the Var this Wednesday morning. The blaze broke out shortly... Seven people injured in apartment fire in the Var Read More

28/02/2024