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TALKING FRANCE

PODCAST: French hunters and the alcohol problem and Macron’s woes at home

Our Talking France podcast is essential listening for anyone following French news or just wanting to learn more about France. In our latest episode we discuss energy, hunting,

PODCAST: French hunters and the alcohol problem and Macron's woes at home
Image: The Local

In our new episode of Talking France – a podcast in which our team at The Local, including French politics expert John Lichfield, discuss all things French, we look at the main talking points in France this week.

To listen now just CLICK HERE or scroll down to the player in this article below.

We explain the new French government website ministers want us to sign up to and why it might help avoid power cuts this winter. We’ll examine how skiing in the Alps or Pyrenees might be different for winter holidaymakers this year and whether all the money the French government is ploughing into cycling will improve safety.

With the help of John Lichfield we’ll discuss the crisis on the French left brought about by claims and admissions of domestic abuse by two prominent figures. 

Is this the beginning of the end for the seemingly invincible Jean-Luc Mélenchon?

“It’s never been possible to criticise Mélenchon internally within his own party, but it is now,” John Lichfield tells Talking France.

And John will also look at the contrast between the struggles of President Emmanuel Macron at home and his strong showing on the international stage, not least with his powerful speech at the UN this week.

Macron is strong and forthright abroad but lost and depressed at home, John tells the podcast.

On a lighter note we’ll delve into the French tradition of afternoon snacking, the one “meal” of the day when the French – or at least the kids – can anyway without eating absolute “crap”.

Talking France is a free podcast open to all. It’s funded by readers becoming members of The Local. If you like what you listen to please leave a review on Spotify, or Apple / Google Podcasts. 

And always feel free to email us with feedback at [email protected]

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POLITICS

Income tax, property grants and cigarettes: What’s in France’s 2023 budget?

France's finance minister has unveiled the government's financial plans for the next year, and says that his overall aim is to 'protect' households in France from inflation and rises in the cost of living - here's what he announced.

Income tax, property grants and cigarettes: What's in France's 2023 budget?

The 2023 Budget was formally presented to the Council of Ministers on Monday, before economy minister Bruno Le Maire announced the main details to the press. 

The budget must now be debated in parliament, and more details on certain packages will be revealed in the coming days, but here is the overview;

Inflation – two of the biggest measures to protect households from the rising cost of living had already been announced – gas and electricity prices will remain capped in 2023, albeit at the higher rate of 15 percent, while low-income households will get a €100-200 grant. The energy price cap is expected to cost the government €45 billion in 2023.

EXPLAINED: What your French energy bills will look like in 2023

Property renovations – the MaPrimeRenov scheme, which gives grants to householders for works that make their homes more energy-efficient, will be extended again into 2023, with a budget of €2.5 billion to distribute.

Income tax – the income tax scale will be indexed to inflation in 2023, so that workers who get a pay increase to cope with the rising cost of living don’t find themselves paying more income tax. “Disposable income after tax will remain the same for all households even if their salary increases,” reads the 2023 Budget.

Pay rises –  pay will increase for teachers, judges and other civil servants as inflation is forecast to reach 4.3 percent next year after 5.4 percent in 2022. Around €140 million is assigned to increase the salaries of non-teaching staff in schools. 

New jobs – nearly 11,000 more public employees will be hired, in a stark reversal of President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 campaign promise to slash 120,000 public-sector jobs – 2,000 of these jobs will be in teaching. 

Small business help – firms with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 million will also benefit from the 15 percent price cap on energy bills in 2023. The finance ministry will put in place a simplified process for small businesses to claim this aid. In total €3 billion is available to help small businesses that are suffering because of rising costs. 

Refugees – In the context of the war in Ukraine, the government plans to finance 5,900 accommodation places for refugees and asylum seekers in various reception and emergency accommodation centres. The budget provides for a 6 percent increase in the “immigration, asylum and integration” budget.

Cigarettes – prime minister Elisabeth Borne had already announced that the price of cigarettes will rise “in line with inflation”.

Ministries – Le Maire also announced the budget allocation for the various ministries. The Labour ministry is the big winner with an increase of 42.8 percent compared to last year, coupled with the goal to reach full employment by 2027. Education gets an increase of €60.2 billion (or 6.5 percent more than in 2022), much of which will go on increasing teachers’ salaries, while the justice and environment ministries will also see increased budgets.

Conversely, there was a fall in spending for the finance ministry itself.

Borrowing –  the government will borrow a record €270 billion next year in order to finance the budget. “This is not a restrictive budget, nor an easy one – it’s a responsible and protective budget at a time of great uncertainties,” said Le Maire. 

The government is tabling on growth of one percent, a forecast Le Maire defended as “credible and pro-active” despite an estimate of just 0.5 percent GDP growth by the Bank of France, and 0.6 percent from economists at the OECD.

The public deficit is expected to reach five percent of GDP, as the EU has suspended the rules limiting deficit spending to three percent of GDP because of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Parliament

The budget plans now need to be debated in parliament where they are likely to face fierce opposition. Emmanuel Macron’s centrist LREM party and its allies lost their majority in elections earlier this year.

Macron also plans to push ahead with a pension reform that would gradually start pushing up the official retirement age from 62 currently, setting up a standoff with unions and left-wing opposition parties.

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