How life will change in France as of July 1st

Life will slightly change in France as of Wednesday July 1st with everything from driving rules, dodgy parking and family allowance payments affected. Here’s what you need to know.

How life will change in France as of July 1st
Dodgy parking is no longer being tolerated with steep fines coming into force on July 1st. Photo: AFP

As always on July 1st a raft of reforms and new laws will come into force.

So you don’t get caught out, here’s a few to be aware of.

Road safety rules:

Many of the most important changes are in the area of road safety.

For a start headphones and other wireless earpieces are now forbidden when driving.

The measure also applies to scooters and cyclists, who will  no longer be allowed to stick their phones under their helmets as many are prone to do.

Basically if you want to talk on the phone while driving, you’ll have to use the car speakers via Bluetooth or put the phone on loud speaker. Anyone who doesn’t respect the new rules faces a €135 fine.

The new laws also include a ban on eating sandwiches at the wheel, putting on make-up or listening to loud music, which could result in a €75 fine. It's all designed to allow drivers in France to improve their concentration levels, which can't be a bad thing.

No drink driving for new drivers

France continues to crack down on drink-driving and especially among youngsters. A new measure brought in on July 1st sees the alcohol limit for young drivers cut to 0.2g/l. Basically meaning they can’t have a drink at all before getting behind the wheel.

Anyone who does and gets caught will get six points on their license. The measure concerns those who have been driving for less than three years.

Parking charges

The cost of parking your car will no longer be charged on an hourly basis. Parking machines will now be set so that tariffs go up every quarter of an hour. Don’t expect parking to get any cheaper however as many providers have simply bumped up their rates.

Fines go up for dodgy parking

Many people complain about French drivers parking anywhere and the government is trying to crack down. Those caught leaving their cars on pavements or in cycle lanes or pedestrian crossings now face a €135 fine, that’s an increase of €100.

Polluting coaches and trucks banned from Paris

As part of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s war on pollution, coaches and trucks registered before 2001 are now banned from entering Paris.

No smoking with kids in car

It is now against the law to smoke in a car where a child younger than 12 years of age is present. If you do, you face a €68 fine. Smoking in outdoor play areas for children is also now banned.

Family allowances cut for the most well off

Those couples with two children who earn more than €6,000 a month net, will see their family allowances (Allocations familiales) cut in two, to around €65 from €129. Those who earn €8,000 a month net will see the allowance cut by three quarters. Around 485,000 families will be affected, though they won’t notice the cut till their payment arrives in August.

Gas prices to be cut by 1.3 percent

Another cut in gas prices is good news for customers of provider Engie.

Foods to carry allergy warnings

From now on pre-packaged foods must carry warnings for 14 different substances that could provoke a reaction for consumers who are either allergic or intolerant. Restaurants will also have to warn clients of the products either on the menus or clearly within the premises.

Asbestos limits lowered

Legal limits for the amount of asbestos that construction workers are exposed to in old buildings have been cut tenfold in a bid to reduce on the number of diseases it causes each year in France – estimated to be around 5,000.

Self-testing kits for Aids

From now on people will be able to carry out a test for the Aids virus without having to go to a clinic, with kits available in pharmacies.

Prices for pills

The labels on medication and pills will be altered so that the prices are made much clearer as well as how the cost of each medication is reimbursed, either by the state or the “mutuelle”.

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‘Progress’ in Paris climate change talks

Ministers and negotiators from more than 75 nations have made headway in talks ahead of a crunch UN climate summit in Paris, but "the task ahead is considerable", France's foreign minister said Tuesday.

'Progress' in Paris climate change talks
Hollande and other leaders at the 'pre-COP' talks which concluded Tuesday. Photo: Stephanie De Sakutin/AFP

Laurent Fabius, who will preside over the November 30th-December 11th conference in Paris, told journalists the three days of talks, which ended Tuesday, had been an important step and “progress has been made on at least five points”.

But he warned “the task ahead is considerable”.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres added: “It continues to be entirely possible to come to an agreement… despite all the challenges in front of us.”

Fabius announced that 117 heads of state and government – including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi of India and Russia's Vladimir Putin – have confirmed they will attend the summit, tasked with inking a pact to stave off dangerous levels of global warming.

A rough draft of that hoped-for agreement has been drawn up by rank-and-file diplomats, with ministers set to sign the final deal at the end of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris.

The deal will be underpinned by national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

The “pre-COP” meeting sought to identify areas of potential compromise on issues still dividing nations and so avoid a repeat of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, which ended without a binding global pact.

Fabius said there was momentum towards ensuring that countries ratchet up their efforts to slash carbon pollution beyond pledges submitted ahead of the

“A review should take place every five years… to prepare an upward revision of national plans,” he said. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude oil exporter, filed its climate pledge on Tuesday, saying up to 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year would be “avoided” by 2030.

 'Matter of survival'

Current national plans would yield average global temperatures three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times – far beyond the 2C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) limit that scientists say is the threshold for dangerous warming.

“The COP 21 will put in place the mechanism to close the gap,” Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru's environment minister, told AFP. “Getting to 2C depends on boosting our ambition.”

Enshrining the principle that nations would not be allowed to backtrack on their carbon-cutting promises is also gaining ground, Fabius said.

Another make-or-break issue on the table in the three-day talks was money for developing nations to help them decarbonize their economies, and shore up defences against unavoidable climate impacts.

“Climate finance was very central” to the discussions, said Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of the Environment and Energy for the Maldives, one of many small island  states whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels.

“Adaptation is a matter of survival for us,” he told AFP. “Nobody wants to leave the Maldives, we are there to stay.”

African leaders said they were looking to the talks for solutions to electrify the continent, grow its economies and keep their young people from fleeing abroad.

The 195-nation UN climate forum has officially adopted the goal of limiting global warming to 2C, but many vulnerable and poor nations are pushing for that threshold to be lowered to 1.5C.

Recent scientific studies have shown that even if the 2C goal is attained, the impact could be devastating in many parts of the world.

 A 2C rise would submerge land currently occupied by 280 million people, while an increase of 4C would cover areas home to 600 million, according to a study published by Climate Central, a US-based research group.