News Digest: Macron Evokes Article 49.3 & Survives No-Confidence Vote, But What Happens Now?



News Digest: Macron Evokes Article 49.3 & Survives No-Confidence Vote, But What Happens Now?

The French government is pushing its pension bill through despite opposition, strikes and fuel shortages are predicted across France, and are you ready for tax season? Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. France’s pension reforms drama continues

France’s pension reforms have been making a lot of headlines this week. After weeks of nationwide strikes over French President Emmanuel Macron’s highly controversial pension reform bill, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced last Thursday (16th March) that the government was triggering Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, effectively forcing the bill through the Assemblée Nationale without a vote. The move, which was announced prior to the day’s scheduled AN vote, was met with protests both in and outside of parliament. Two votes of no-confidence were filed against Macron’s government, and hundreds of people took to the streets of Paris, Lyon, Nantes, and other major cities that evening to voice their discontent, with demonstrations continuing over the weekend.

In the latest twist of events, the government yesterday (Monday 20th March) faced – and survived – both votes of no confidence, one of which was defeated by a mere nine votes.

So, what happens now? The bill must be approved by the French Constitutional Council and survive any appeals before being passed into law. Macron stated today (Tuesday 21st March) that he wouldn’t be reshuffling his government or reappointing a Prime Minister, but he is set to give a televised interview tomorrow (Wednesday 22nd March, broadcast on TF1 and France at 1pm French time), which will hopefully shed some light on the next steps.

Meanwhile, protests kicked off in Paris and other French cities last night, with a number of clashes taking place between protesters and police. The protests are set to continue through the week, and many cities are already suffering the effects of road blockades, travel disruptions, and rolling strikes. Dramatic images of garbage piling up on the streets throughout Paris (the results of ongoing strikes among garbage collectors) have circulated the world press, while unions promised to render Lyon a “dead city” with road blockades.

The unions are just getting warmed, though – the next major day of nationwide strikes is set for this Thursday (23rd March). If you’re planning to travel on that day (or throughout the week), be sure to double-check services with your travel provider and prepare for delays and disruptions. The best general advice is if you canstay home or work remotely; this would be a good week to do so.

2. Petrol shortages around France

If you live in France, another thing to be aware of is that many of the abovementioned strikes and blockades are being directed at French oil refineries with the aim to prevent deliveries to petrol stations and create fuel shortages around the country. Shortages are not yet critical for the time being and are mostly concentrated in certain areas.

The worst effected areas are currently Marseille and the Bouches-du-Rhône département, the Gard and Vaucluse départements, and the Pays-de-la-Loire region. Many petrol stations have placed some kind of limits on petrol/diesel shortages (for example, limited litres per car or a ban on jerry cans). The best way to keep an eye on shortages and station closures in your area is to use the interactive map here.

3. Are you ready for French tax season?

The French government has released the official deadlines for 2023 income tax returns – see our France Tax Calendar 2023: All the Key Dates for Your Diary. Income tax declarations open on April 13th, 2023, from when you will have between four and six weeks to file your return, depending on the French department that you live in.

And if you do need some help understanding French Taxes, make sure that you sign up for our free FrenchEntrée webinar NEXT WEEK!

I’ll be joined by our expert advisor, Eliane Rakotonoel, from Elitax for this special edition webinar, where she will be answering all your questions regarding French taxes, tax returns, and wealth tax. As always, there will be the chance to put your questions to Eliane live, but if you do want to send in your questions in advance, you can email them to me at [email protected].

The webinar will take place on Thursday March 30th at 4pm UK time (GMT+1) and you can sign up here or by clicking the button below.

Lead photo credit : Rubbish is piling up on the streets of Paris as garbage collectors remain on strike.

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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  • Paul
    2023-03-22 08:06:40
    The French need to look across the channel, count themselves fortunate and see that the pension age is now 66 and going on to 67. They want Democracy without responsibility and for those approaching retirement it will be a case of give me the money then I dont give a stuff what you do. The anarchists are the usual rent a crowd mob, going anywhere they can to start fires, trash stuff etc. They should have taken a brush and swept up the garbage on the streets as they went. And as for the student whinging on that BBC report today, they have decades to contribute to a good private pension ie plan ahead, like we all have to do. Anyway, let them get on with it, Macron needs to stand firm as there will be no money if something doesn't change. Maybe he should do a powerpoint preso in parliament today to show the contributions forecast for the next 20-30 years and the corresponding planned number of people reaching retirement age ie share the knowledge so people can see