News Digest: Macron Urges EU Support of Ukraine



News Digest: Macron Urges EU Support of Ukraine

Macron made headlines across the globe yesterday evening as he called on EU leaders to increase their support for Ukraine. Plus, are the farmers’ strikes coming back, and will you be purchasing France’s special Leap Year newspaper? Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. Macron urges Western support at Ukraine summit

French President Emmanuel Macron held a conference with European leaders in Paris last night (Monday, Feb 26th), where he pushed for greater effort in supporting Ukraine in the ongoing war against Russia. The conference opened with a video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after which Macron spoke, urging greater support from the Western powers. Russia “must not and cannot win this war,” he stated, making reference to the recent death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia and putting forward the concern that Russia may attack further countries in the years to come.

Macron was joined by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and ministers from Canada and the US were also present.

Speaking after the conference, Macron insisted that France would “do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war,” and while he assured that there was no consensus today to send in troops on the ground, he also said pointedly that “nothing can be ruled out”.

(Read more on this story at the Guardian and the New York Times).

2. The latest strike info

At this point, I feel like we should just keep a rolling strike section in the newsletter! Thankfully, we’ll start with some good news for travelers visiting the French capital – after a week of closures due to strike action, unions reached an agreement with management at the weekend, and the Eiffel Tower is now back open as of yesterday (Monday).

Yesterday also saw a key meeting in Brussels when EU agriculture ministers met to discuss the widespread farmers’ strikes that have affected several EU countries. While French farmer strikes ended at the start of February, further blockades – this time by Spanish rather than French farmers – are set to target the borders of France and Spain. The strikes will take place today (Tues, Feb 27th) and tomorrow (Wed, Feb 28th), and will likely lead to delays for those crossing the border. It’s not yet known whether the blockades will continue throughout the week, so keep an eye on local news and traffic reports if you’re traveling to the south border this week.

3. Doctors’ fees rise

We published our list of changes in France for 2024 back at the beginning of the year, but here’s another one to add to the list. This week it was confirmed that two prices concerning doctor’s fees will rise as of March 31st2024 (read the official report here):

1.     The ‘franchise médicale’, which is the obligatory fee paid by the patient (i.e. you!) that is neither paid for by your state healthcare (if you have a valid Carte Vitale) nor by your mutuelle top-insurance, if you have one. This contribution will now double from €0.50 to €1 for prescriptions and paramedical procedures, and from €2 to €4 for patient transport. There will be a €50 cap on these fees per person, per year.

2.     The ‘participation forfaitaire’, which is the obligatory fee paid as above for appointments with your médecin traitant (GP) or medical specialists. This contribution will also increase from the current €1 to a proposed €3 (the exact hasn’t yet been confirmed).

4. It’s a leap year!

Just in case you didn’t already know, 2024 is a leap year, known as “une année bissextile” in French. Various traditions take place around the year to mark February 29th, which, of course, only comes around once every four years. In the UK and US, for example, a popular tradition is to propose to your loved one on the rare date – but with a twist, as February 29th proposals traditionally see the woman propose to the man instead of the other way round (although, naturally, this part only applies to heterosexual couples!).

In France, however, traditions are far less romantic. The most popular leap year tradition is the publication of a special satirical newspaper, “La Bougie du Sapeur”, which is only published every four years. You’ll find the newspaper on sale across the country this Thursday, February 29th (you can also take out a 100-year subscription for €100!), and all profits are donated to charity, so there’s no excuse to not get involved. Maybe you bought one last time – back in 2020 – if so, make sure to dig it out, as you’ll finally get the answers to the cryptic crossword. Better late than never!

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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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