French & Riviera News - Friday, February 2nd

Protests Easing

The protests across France are easing this morning, in what’s being seen as a political victory for the new Prime Minister. Following yesterday’s promises by Gabriel Attal, leading agricultural unions FNSEA and Jeunes Agriculteurs have announced a temporary halt to blockades and and to focus on a different type of mobilization.. However, the unions have imposed deadlines, and emphasize the need for credible, serious commitments.

The new initiatives underscore the government's commitment to agricultural sovereignty, ensuring that France remains self-sufficient in cultivation, harvesting, and food supply. Key highlights include reinforcing the Egalim law to better protect farmers' income ; a substantial €150 million financial aid for livestock farmers ; adjustments to inheritance tax thresholds to encourage generational continuation of farms ; and policy adjustments to ease certain agricultural practices.

Furthermore, the government plans to halt the importation of produce treated with certain banned pesticides and is calling for clearer EU legislation on synthetic meat. Massive supermarket audits and immediate financial relief for fuel taxes for farmers are also part of the sweeping reforms announced.

These measures are said to reflect the government's proactive stance on supporting its agricultural sector while balancing environmental and economic interests. It’s estimated that these measures will cost the tax payers an estimated €400 million euros, although the president talks not  of a cost but of an investment into France’s future. 

There seems to be a general sense of relief, if not celebration, among the farmers with talk of “tangible progress”, although some protests continue this morning. However, there is also caution, with the unions looking for tangible results before the next Agricultural Trade Fair on February 24t, and for key laws to be in force before June.

 

Local demonstrations

There may still be some disruptions today, but nothing like the scale we saw yesterday, when protestors forced the closure of the A8 motorway around Frejus in the direction of Nice, and farmers took to the streets of Nice yesterday in a large-scale protest.

 

Macron’s EU Initiative

Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron has called for the establishment of a "European sanitary and agricultural control force." This initiative aims to ensure uniform adherence to agricultural product regulations across the European Union and to enforce "mirror clauses" for imported goods, maintaining fair competition and standards equivalent to those faced by European farmers. Macron's proposal, termed "Egalim européen," seeks to prevent the circumvention of French law through European purchasing centers, addressing concerns of French farmers over price pressures.

The European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, is set to present a proposal to lessen administrative burdens by the next agricultural council on February 26th.

 

Teachers Strike

French teachers were on strike yesterday putting increased pressure on an already beleaguered education minister facing multiple controversies. Unions representing primary school teachers have highlighted the strike as a signal to the government of their daily struggles, work-related stress, and a perceived lack of appreciation, particularly in terms of salary. This unrest comes amidst a backdrop of a government reshuffle, with Amelie Oudéa-Castéra taking over the education portfolio, a move that has sparked further discontent among educators. The strike, which saw participation from nearly half of middle and high school teachers is part of a broader expression of dissatisfaction with current education policies and the minister's approach. Demonstrations took place in several major cities, underscoring the depth of the teaching community's grievances.

 

Désmicardisation

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has sparked discussions with his proposal to "désmicardiser" the nation, aiming to move beyond a society where many are stuck earning near the minimum wage throughout their careers. This concept, introduced during his general policy statement, has left some puzzled, including union leaders and politicians, who seek clarity on its practical implications.

Attal's approach focuses on improving salaries, particularly in sectors that pay below the minimum wage, and addressing the structural issue of wage traps exacerbated by current incentives at the minimum wage level. This initiative comes amid rising concerns over the increasing proportion of minimum wage earners, now at a record 17.3% in 2023, partly due to inflation.

The government's strategy includes potential legislative changes and a reevaluation of wage indexing to inflation, with a comprehensive report on wage and tax incentives expected by summer to guide further action.

 

Monaco Crime

Monaco maintains its status as one of the safest places in the world, although it's not completely immune to crime, as recent figures reveal. Monaco Matin reports a slight increase in criminal incidents, with 834 cases recorded in 2023, a 0.9% rise from the previous year.

Monaco's robust police force, consisting of 606 officers and supported by an extensive network of 1,087 security cameras, responded to over 9,400 incidents last year. While car thefts have decreased, incidents involving two-wheeled vehicles have risen. Notably, cases of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs surged by nearly 24%, and drug possession reports jumped by almost 50%.

Authorities are also clamping down on telephone and email scams, with a recent arrest highlighting their efforts.

 

Urban Forest

The first of 2,500 new trees due to line the Paillon promenade in Nice have been planted. Development work has begun on the new "urban forest" - an extra eight hectares of greenery around the site of the former Acropolis convention centre. The first trees were planted this week on the Boulevard Risso, near the Louis Nucera library. The project is due to be completed by the end of 2025.

 

Le Grand Frais

The Grand Frais supermarket has officially opened its doors at Polygone Riviera in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The opening not only satisfies a gap in the local market for such a store but also adds to the shopping diversity at Polygone Riviera, drawing in both regular and new visitors to the center.

 

Monte Carlo Historic Rally

The historic Monte-Carlo Rally has begun, with 250 iconic cars making their way to Monaco from starting points across Europe including Glasgow, Bad Homburg, Reims, and Milan. Fans and enthusiasts have a unique opportunity to witness a wide array of classic vehicles, ranging from a Lancia Stratos to a Porsche 911, all produced between 1911 and 1983. The event, which turns the Port Hercules esplanade into an open-air automobile museum, is eagerly anticipated not just for the display of these vintage cars but also for the competitive stages that will unfold. Key highlights include a challenging route from Monaco to Valence, and a finale during the legendary night of Turini. The rally also brings a nod to tradition with restrictions on certain modern electronic devices in the cars, emphasizing the skill and role of the co-drivers. Among the participants to watch are Bruno Saby, a former world rally champion, and the local Monégasque team of Olivier and Lydia Campana, who have previously excelled in the event. The rally will conclude with a gala and award ceremony at the Salle des Etoiles on Wednesday.

 

Antibes cinema opens

The long-awaited new cinema complex in Antibes is finally opening its doors this evening. After three-years of construction, the Cinéplanet close to the port finally got approval from the safety commission this week and is ready to welcome moviegoers.  

Cinéplanet promises a unique cinematic experience with its eight theaters. This includes five standard and three premium halls.

 

Warmer Temperatures

France continues to experience warmer-than-average temperatures, with January 2024 set to be around 0.6°C higher than the seasonal norm. This marks an unprecedented 24-month streak of temperatures exceeding the average, a trend that began in February 2022, according to Météo-France.

Despite a brief cold snap mid-January, with temperatures dropping as low as -14.7°C in some areas, the country quickly returned to milder weather, particularly in the south. Forecasters predict this mild trend will extend into early February, potentially affecting early plant blooms and agricultural yields

 

Auditions 

Are you a budding singer or songwriter?  Would you like to represent the Principality at the next Golden Voice Music Awards in Cannes in April? Auditions are being held by the Monaco International Music & Arts Club. Whether you are of Monegasque nationality or a resident of the Principality, come and take part in the "open live auditions" on Saturday February 24th at the Michel Daner Theatre in Beausoleil. Whether you are a singer or songwriter, you are invited - whatever your musical genre and your age. The casting take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

SPORT

Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season and join Formula One rivals Ferrari on a multi-year deal in 2025. 

The 7 time world champion only signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes last summer.

However, it is understood his contract contained a break clause after one year, which the Briton has chosen to activate. 

The switch is seen as one of the most significant in F1 history, promising an exciting dynamic with Hamilton pairing up with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari.

 

Football

Wolves hosted Manchester United in the Premier League last night. The match finished Wolves 3 Man United 4, with Kobbie Mainoo scoring the winning goal in the 97th minutes, just seconds after Wolves had equalized coming back from 2 goals down. Beleagured Marcus Rashford scored the opening goal after just 5 minutes.

Erik ten Hag's side move back into the top seven after ending a run of four away league matches without winning and are now eight points off the Champions League places, while Wolves stay 11th.

 

West Ham 1 – Bournemouth 1

 

In Spain, Joselu scored a goal in each half as Real Madrid beat local rivals Getafe to return to the top of La Liga.

 

Rugby

The Six Nations tournament gets underway this evening, with the opening match between France and Ireland.

Scrum-half Maxime Lucu will start for France in the absence of Antoine Dupont, who will miss the tournament to play in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

On Saturday, Italy host England in Rome, and Wales play Scotland.

 

Cricket

The second test between India and England is underway.

India won the toss and chose to bat first

 

Basketball

Monaco’s basketballers are in action again this evening in the EuroLeague, hosting Fenebache from Turkey. The match starts at 8.30 at the Salle Gaston Medecin.

The La Roca Team are hoping to follow up on their excellent result on Wednesday, when they beat Partizan Belgrade. During the match, AS Monaco's Mike James reached a significant milestone by becoming the second-highest scorer in the league's history, thanks to his 19-point performance, taking his total in the Euroleague to 4,483 points, just 72 points behind the top scorer, Vassilis Spanoulis.

 

BUSINESS NEWS

 

Meta

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta, the tech giant behind Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, bounced back with strong financial results, defying recent criticism in Washington. The company reported a triple increase in quarterly profits to over $14 billion, with significant growth in user numbers, ad sales, and cost reductions. Even its virtual reality unit, often critiqued, achieved a milestone by generating $1 billion in revenue.

In a bold move showcasing confidence, Meta announced its first-ever dividend to shareholders, signaling financial robustness and plans for ongoing investment in the business.

This news sent shares soaring over 12% in after-hours trading. The announcement marks a significant turnaround from previous challenges, highlighting Meta's resilience and continued appeal to users and advertisers alike, with nearly 3.2 billion people actively using its platforms daily.

 

US Defence Deal with India

The US State Department has approved a nearly $4 billion defense deal with India. The package aims to bolster the strategic partnership between the US and India, featuring advanced drones, 170 Hellfire missiles, precision bombs, and surveillance tech, with General Atomics as the principal contractor. This agreement underscores the growing defense collaboration between the two nations, aligning with their shared security interests and geopolitical strategies.

 

Deutsche Bank

Germany's largest bank, Deutsche Bank, has said it is planning to slash 3,500 jobs worldwide by the end of next year. 

It becomes the latest lender to cut back its workforce, with many financial institutions seeing a fall in deal-making activity after interest rates rose.

Deutsche Bank employs 90,000 staff around the world, and recently expanded its footprint in the UK by acquiring Numis, one of the UK's leading investment banks.

 

Shell

Oil and gas giant Shell has reported lower annual profits due to energy prices falling last year.

Profits were $28.2bn (£22.3bn) in 2023, down from $39.9bn in 2022 which was the company's highest earnings in its 115-year history.

Energy firms made record earnings when oil and gas prices soared in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine amid fears of supply problems.

Households bills have eased since 2022, but remain at a high level.

 

TikTok

TikTok has removed music by stars including Taylor Swift, The Weeknd and Olivia Rodrigo from videos after a row with their record label, Universal Music Group (UMG). 

A licensing agreement between TikTok and the label expired on Wednesday, and a new deal could not be reached.

UMG said TikTok wanted to pay a "fraction" of the rate other social media sites do for access to its songs. 

TikTok accused UMG of presenting a "false narrative and rhetoric".

 

WEATHER

Sunshine is back today.

Clear skies all day, light winds and temperatures rising to 16° around Cannes & Monaco, up to 18° towards St Tropez.

Sunshine inland as well, with highs of 17° in Grasse and 18° in Draguignan.

More of the same over the weekend in AM despite some cloudy spells inland and haze and fog on Sunday morning along the coast.

 

Sunrise 7:49

Sunset 17:40

+ 2 minutes

 

Sea temperatures 14°

 

 

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