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See what changes in France from February 1st

The start of February brings with it several changes that could hit you in the pocket or perhaps even leave you slightly better off.

See what changes in France from February 1st
Photo: AFP

First the good news.

From February 1st gas prices are going down once again. The provider Engie (formerly GDF-Suez) which has 6.4 million consumers in France will drop its prices by an average of 1.86 percent from Monday.

That reflects the fifth consecutive month in which prices have fallen. Since January 2015 gas prices have dropped by an average of 12.6 percent.

Now for the bad news.

For anyone who drives a lot around France you will have to shell out just a little bit more from now on to pay for the motorway tolls.

From February 1st the toll prices or peages as they are called in French, will rise by an average of 1.12 percent.

The steepest hikes will be seen on motorways in the south west of the country.

But we can’t say it hasn’t been coming. The prices of tolls were frozen throughout 2015, partly due to pressure from motorist groups, but 2016 will see the tariffs once again on the rise.

That’s in the main due to the fact that the French state has raised the “rent” for the seven private companies who run the motorways.

Motorist groups have blasted the companies for passing on that rise to drivers.

And now for the other changes.

Jobseekers

From now on most new jobseekers in several regions of France will have to sign on with the “Pôle Emploi” over the internet rather than in an actual office.

The change will affect jobseekers in Normandy and the regions of the south west Poitou Charentes and Languedoc-Roussillon Midi-Pyrénées. The switch is being rolled out gradually across all of France’s regions.

While it sounds like a helpful move, the only problem is, you’ll need to scan all of your relevant documents to be able to sign up.

Bank charges comparison site launched

Monday will see a new website created by France’s Ministry of Finance go live. The site allows members of the public to compare the tariffs charged by all the banks, before choosing who to open an account with.

Tariffs include the cost of having a bank card and making transactions etc.

Customers will be able to compare around 100 different banks.

Scooter drivers given more freedom

It happens all the time anyway but from Monday scooter drivers will be able to snake their way between two lanes of cars without breaking the law.

Apparently 97 percent of riders are already doing it, but now weaving between two lines of vehicles before traffic lights or in log jams will be legal for the next four years in the Paris region and several other parts of the country, including the Rhône.

It’s basically a long-term experiment that authorities want to carry out to see whether it leads to improved safety or perhaps the opposite.

And what won’t change?

Anyone who is trying to save money through the Livret A accounts in France isn’t likely to get rich quick.

The interest rates which have dropped to 0.75 percent will not see any change.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What’s changing about life in France in June 2019

At the beginning of each month, there are many changes in France. Here is an overview of what is coming into effect this June.

What’s changing about life in France in June 2019
Photos: AFP
Electricity prices going up
 
EDF (électricité de France) will be increasing electricity prices by 5.9 percent starting June 1st.
 
For the average household, this means that the cost of energy will increase around €85 per year, according to EDF estimations.
 
 
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
 
The increase was proposed on February 7th by the CRE (commission de régulation d'énergie) in order to cover rising costs, but the government decided to wait until the end of winter to apply the price hike. Several news organisations (France Info, BFMTV) also cite the role of the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in delaying the measure.
 
Gas prices continue to fall
 
Gas prices will continue to decrease slight, by 0.45 percent, in the month of June. The reduction is part of measures taken in January to placate the 'yellow vests'. June, however, is the last month that these reductions are to be applied.
 
 
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
 
Last chance to file taxes
 
Those living in départements numbered 50 through 976 have until midnight on Tuesday, June 4th to file their tax declaration online (everyone else should have filed already).
 
Reminder: despite the fact that it’s still necessary to file a tax return, 2018 is a “white year”, which means that, in order to avoid paying double the taxes in 2019, French taxpayers are allowed to skip 2018 except on “exceptional” income. 
 
“Exceptional” income are sums that are likely to be one-offs for 2018, like compensation for breach of contract (if the amount qualifies as taxable), one-time retirement allowances, income from stakes or profit-sharing schemes that are not part of an employee savings program and capital gains on movable or immovable assets. 
 
For more information, read our article on this year’s tax declarations in France.
 
Summer sales
 
The summer soldes (sales) will take place from Tuesday, June 26th through Tuesday, August 6th in most of France, and July 3rd through August 13th in the Alpes-Maritimes and Pyrénées-Orientales. Dates also vary slightly in overseas territories, and can be found here.
 
The dates and conduct of sales in France are strictly controlled by the Code de commerce, which permits these promotions twice a year – once in January-February, after the holidays, and once in summer. These are the only times when French retailers are allowed to sell at a loss, according to specific rules laid out by the Code de commerce.
 
 
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
 
Consultation regarding fixed-line telephone numbers
 
The Arcep (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes) is holding an online survey now through June 7th to ask users whether they want to be able to keep their landline telephone numbers, even when they move to a different region.
 
Currently, landline telephone users are obligated to change their numbers when the moving elsewhere in France, because these numbers are organised by region of residence (01 for Ile-de-France, 02 for the north west, etc.). Fixed-line users will now have a chance to make themselves heard on the subject.
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