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110km/h speed limit in France: Macron delays decision

Proposals to lower the speed limit on French motorways sparked controversy and reminded France of last year's 'yellow vest' protests. Now, President Emmanuel Macron has chosen to postpone the debate on the topic altogether.

110km/h speed limit in France: Macron delays decision
Photo: AFP

As he presented the first conclusions of France's Citizens' Convention on the Climate (CCC) on Monday, Macron said that he believed an ecological transition should not be at the expense of rural and isolated areas of France and who depended on their cars to get around.

“Those who spend 45 minutes or an hour every day on the highway to go to work (..) will say to themselves, 'there is no place for me in their project, it's an urban project where I do not exist',” the president told the 150 CCC representatives present.

“That is why I believe that the debate on 110 km/h must be postponed,” he said.

 

The CCC is a group of members of the public who have spent nine months putting together a far-reaching plan to lower France's carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

The proposal to lower the limit on French motorways from 130km/h to 110km/h is one of the CCC's 149 proposals.

Macron said the government would retain 146 of the 149 proposals, which span over a wide range of topics from transport to the workplace and shopping and eating habits.

His announcements came the day after a Green surge dominated France's local elections – the French greens won in a series of important cities and the president's party did poorly – putting increased pressure on Macron to show that he would deliver on his promises to pave the way for a greener future for France.

French local elections: Greens achieve major gains while Macron's party slumps

None of the other proposals caused as much stir as the speed limit reduction, which has been a touchy subject in France for years.

When the French government in July 2018 lowered the speed limit on secondary routes – which largely run through rural areas – from 90km/h to 80km/h in a move aimed at cutting road casualties the move sparked a storm of protest.

 

It became one of the early rallying cries of the'yellow vest' protesters, who saw it as an extra tax that would disproportionately affect countryside dwellers.

Speed cameras on secondary roads were regularly attacked and burned out and at one point the government estimated that 80 percent of the country's speed cameras were inoperable.

After a year of protests, the government decided that it would give local authorities the power to reverse the change if they wanted to, so ow some areas have the limit at 80km/h and others have it at 90km/h.

OPINION: No, this doesn't mean France will get a Green president

Now, the Citizens' Convention on the Climate – paradoxically also itself a result of the 'yellow vest' protests, as Macron created it in response to the protesters' demands for more direct democracy – had asked to decrease the speed limit as an environmentally oriented measure rather than a safety measure.

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.

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