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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

On the Agenda: What’s happening in France this week

From festivals to the final round of voting, plus a review of the 'burkini' swimsuit in French pools, here's what is happening in France this week.

On the Agenda: What's happening in France this week
Emmanuelle and Brigitte Macron pictured voting on Sunday. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

Monday

Campaigning restarts – after a pause in campaigning over the weekend while voting went ahead for the first round of the parliamentary elections, the campaign restarts on Monday for the second round of voting on June 19th. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is heading to her constituency in Calvados, Normandy.

READ ALSO French parliamentary elections: What happens next?

Football – France take on Croatia in the final game of the pool stages for the Nations Cup. The match will be held at Satde de France.

Tuesday

Macron to Romania – Emmanuel Macron begins a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the war in Ukraine and the EU response. Speculation has been rife that Macron will take the opportunity to visit Ukraine too, the Elysée says only that Macron “stands ready to go to Ukraine . . . if it would be helpful to president Volodymyr Zelensky”.

Mélenchon in Toulouse – Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left alliance Nupes, will hold a campaign meeting in Toulouse to rally his supporters ahead of the second round of voting – Nupes and Macron’s alliance Ensemble finished neck-and-neck in round one, although pollsters predict that the Macronists will win more seats in parliament. Mélenchon himself is not standing for election, but hopes to be named Prime Minister if his group wins a majority.

Burkini review – the Conseil d’Etat, one of the French administration’s highest authorities, will review the decision by local authorities in Grenoble to allow the full-body ‘burkini’ swimsuit in municipal swimming pools. Opponants of the decision including Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin say the decision goes against the French tradition of laïcité (secularism).

Wednesday

Baccalauréat begins – school pupils around France begin their written ‘bac’ exams, starting with the philosophy paper.

Macron in Moldova – Macron continues his visit with a trip to Moldova.

Thursday

Marseille festival – the 27th Marseille festival begins, running until July 10th it offers theatre, music, cinema and art.

Saturday

Pride parades – it’s Pride month and parades take place on Saturday in Ancenis, Arles, Brest, Caen, Gap, Guéret, Laval, Lorient, Metz, Rouen, Saint-Quentin, Strasbourg and Tours. Some towns have already held their events, while Biarritz, Bourges, Montpellier and Paris hold their parades on June 25th.

Sunday

Elections – Voting begins for the second round of voting in the French parliamentary elections, where each area selects their local deputé to sit in the French parliament.

Polling stations open at 8am and close at 6pm, 7pm or 8pm depending on where you are (most of the big cities are keeping their polling stations open until 8pm) while the preliminary results will be announced at 8pm.

READ ALSO French parliamentary elections: What happens on Sunday and why it’s important

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in August 2022

The long sultry days of summer are usually fairly quiet in France, as parliament breaks for the summer and huge swathes of the population head to the beach. But 2022 is not an ordinary year - here's what changes in August.

What changes in France in August 2022

End of the health pass

Senators have now ratified a new health bill that formally ends the Covid-19 health emergency and repeals emergency laws introduced at the height of the pandemic.

In practical terms, it means that – from August 1st – the suspended vaccine pass cannot be reimposed, nor can mask mandates, lockdowns, curfews, or other health measures allowed for under emergency legislation. Masks for hospitals and health establishments and on public transport remain ‘strongly recommended’, however, and private businesses as always have the right to require customers to wear a mask.

Mandatory health checks at French borders may, however, be reintroduced if necessary.

No more conseil scientifique

As a consequence of the repeal of the emergency health laws, France’s conseil scientifique (scientific council) which advised the government throughout the Covid-19 crisis, will be disbanded. It currently has no replacement, but a new body for monitoring, anticipating and advising on new health crises may be formed.

Savings

A small boost for savers: the interest rate for the Livret A savings scheme – a tax free instant access savings account available to all – doubles from 1 percent to 2 percent, a level unseen since 2011.

Rates for the Livret d’épargne populaire, meanwhile, will increase from 2.2 percent to 4.6 percent. 

Minimum wage

Due to rising inflation, the minimum wage – known as the Smic – scheme automatically rise by 2.01 percent on August 1st – its fourth increase this year. After taxes and social charges, workers on Smic will see their hourly pay increase from €8.58 to €8.76 – or €1,329 per month for a full-time employee.

Fuel prices

Plans to phase out the 18 cents per litre fuel rebate on petrol (gasoline) and diesel in response to rising oil prices were originally supposed to take effect from July 31st. Good news – the current rate has been extended to August 31st, after which it will be increased to 20c per litre in September and October and then drop to 10c per litre. 

READ ALSO Why this weekend might be a good time to fill up your car in France

Macron bonus

The so-called Macron bonus (prime Macron) – introduced in 2018 as an optional one-off tax and social charge-free bonus given by employers to boost spending power following the Yellow Vest protests and repeated every year since – has been renamed, recalculated and made permanent. 

From August 1st, it will be called the Prime de partage de la valeur, and employees in profit-sharing schemes can receive up to €6,000 as opposed to the current €2,000 maximum. Those not on such schemes can receive up to €3,000. From 2024, the bonus payment will be subject to taxes and social charges.

MPs break

In a normal year, a Parliamentary session runs from the first working day of October to the last working day of June. This is not an ordinary year. France’s National Assembly was supposed to rise for the summer on July 27th. But the current extraordinary session of Parliament has been extended until August 7th to allow for debate on the government’s bill on purchasing power. 

MPs will not return to the hemicyle until October 3rd, with the government deciding not to reconvene parliament in September for the first time in 20 years, to give itself time for consultation on a range of bills.

READ ALSO The 8 signs that August has arrived in France

Public holiday

The Catholic festival of Assumption is a public holiday in France. It is on August 15th which this year is a Monday, allowing a nice long weekend for the people who are still working in August.

School holidays

Schools remain on holiday until the end of August, with kids returning to the classroom on Thursday, September 1st.

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