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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

Agenda: What’s happening in France this week

From strikes to trial verdicts, with doubtless more political rows and the start of the Tour de France, here's what is happening in France this week.

Agenda: What's happening in France this week
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport employees are involved in a pay dispute. Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

Monday 

Abortion protection – following the news from the USA, both Macron’s centrist Ensemble group and the leftist alliance Nupes say they intend to put forward a bill to inscribe the right to abortion in the French constitution. 

EXPLAINED: What is the law on abortion in France?

Lorry drivers’ strike – unions representing drivers are calling for a series of blockades on the road on Monday, particularly targeting industrial zones in the greater Paris region. They are calling for wage increases to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

Tuesday

New parliament – the Assemblée nationale meets for the first time with its new cohort of deputés (MPs) who were elected or re-elected in last week’s parliamentary elections. It’s likely to be a tense meeting as the parliament is largely deadlocked after Macron’s party lost its outright majority and since then he has been unable to secure an alliance that would give him a voting majority. A new president of the Assembly will also be elected since the previous one, Richard Ferrand, lost his seat.

Hospital strike – Staff at the CHU hospital in Bordeaux will take industrial action as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions. Strikes at hospitals do not involve staff walking out, but instead holding pickets and demonstrating to display their grievances.

Wednesday

Terror trial verdict – a verdict is expected in the trial of 14 people over the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris. All but one of the attackers died during or shortly after the attacks on the Bataclan, Stade de France and bars and restaurants. The surviving Salah Abdelslam is on trial with 13 others who are accused of helping the attackers or being involved in the planning –  six of whom are being tried in abstentia. The trial began in November 2021.

Thursday

Tickets resto limits – the tickets restos that many French employees get usually have a maximum daily spend of €19. In 2020 and 2021, when many workers were working remotely for long periods, this limit was increased to €38 a day, but on Thursday the limit reverts back to €19 for use in restaurants, bars and cafés.

Friday

Airport strikes – staff at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out in a second one-day strike in an ongoing dispute over pay. The strike action covers airport staff including check-in and security staff, and on their last walk-out one quarter of departures from Charles de Gaulle airport were cancelled.

Anyone with flights booked on that day is advised to contact their airline. The strike does not affect Paris Beauvais airport, since this is run by a different operator.

READ ALSO How strikes and summer shortages will affect travel in France this summer

Tour de France – the 2022 Tour de France begins, this year cyclists set off from Copenhagen before heading into France for the rest of the race.

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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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