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What can we expect from Macron’s evening speech?

With Emmanuel Macron confirmed for another TV appearance on Tuesday evening, what can we expect from the president on the subjects of health restrictions, vaccine booster shots, the health pass and the economy?

Emmanuel Macron is reportedly 'very worried' about the health situation.
Emmanuel Macron is reportedly 'very worried' about the health situation. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP

Macron is apparently “very worried about the health situation in Europe” and the Elysée has confirmed that he will make a live address to the nation on TV at 8pm on Tuesday.

So what, if anything, is he likely to announce?

Booster shots

It is thought that the subjects of booster shots, vaccination for children and the health pass will form the main thrust of the president’s speech.

As well as being likely to call on all those eligible to have their third vaccine dose, the president could also announce the expansion of the booster shot programme beyond those priority groups who are already eligible.

He may also make an announcement on the linking of the third dose to the health pass – meaning that a third dose would be necessary to access health pass venues such as cafés and restaurants – or make the booster shot compulsory for healthcare workers. At present vaccination is compulsory for health workers, but the booster shot is only advised.

Certainly the general public seem to think that a booster shot regulation is likely – in the hours following the announcement on Friday that the president would speak, the medical booking app Doctolib reported a 61 percent increase in people booking their vaccine booster shot, with a total of 65,000 new appointments booked on Friday.

Health pass

The French parliament has approved measures to extend the health pass legislation beyond its current expiry date of November 15th and it is likely that the president will confirm that the pass will remain in use beyond this date.

Several European countries, including Austria, have recently modified their health passes to remove the option for unvaccinated people to get tested. In France it is still possible to use a negative Covid test for the health pass, although unvaccinated people now have to pay for tests, but it is possible that Macron could follow this trend.

And as discussed, the third dose could be linked to the health pass, although this would pose a number of technical problems.

Vaccinations for children

At present only those aged 12 and over are eligible for the vaccine, but with the US giving the go-ahead for over 5s to get vaccinated and Pfizer applying for a licence for younger children, Macron could also address this issue.

Take-up among the 12-18 age group, who are required to use the health pass, has so far been relatively high since the vaccination programme opened to them in the summer.

Lockdown

Previous TV appearances by the president have heralded another lockdown, but this seems very unlikely this time.

Although case numbers are rising in France they are still only at around 6,600 new cases per day. This is both a lower rate than many of France’s neighbours and a comparable rate to that recorded when France exited lockdown restrictions in the spring and winter of 2020.

Travel restrictions

There has been some concern at the high case numbers over the Channel in the UK, leading to speculation about possible extra restrictions on travellers from the UK.

However previous presidential speeches have not concerned travel – new travel rules are usually announced separately – and although cases in the UK remain high, they appeared to have plateaued at around 40,000 cases per day and begun to fall.

READ ALSO Is France likely to impose new travel restrictions on the UK?

Economy

One thing that we do know about this speech is that it won’t concern only the health situation. Sources at the Elysée have told French media that Macron will also talk about the economy and the government’s France Relance plan to restart the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Much has already been announced from this plan, but there could be new announcements or just a recap of the measures in place and the latest economic situation.

Macron may also mention the controversial pension reforms which were put on hold during the health crisis. He has previously said the plan to reform France’s pension system – which back in December 2019 and January 2020 caused almost two months of transport strikes – will be resurrected “as soon as the health situation permits”.

The Local will be covering the speech live from 8pm.

Member comments

  1. What has pension reform and the ‘health situation’ got to do with each other ? Sounds like he’s playing for time in the hope he’s re-elected

      1. It wasn’t a comment on what’s in the speech but on Macron claiming pension reform couldn’t be addressed until the health situation improved.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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