News Digest: EU Announces New Date for ETIAS Visa System & More French Pension Strikes
The EU has postponed the launch of its ETIAS visa system until 2024, TotalEnergies announces a fuel cap to counteract rising petrol prices, and more strikes are set to hit France next week. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. EU postpones ETIAS launch to 2024
We announced at the end of last year the EU’s plans to introduce the ETIAS or EU Travel Information & Authorisation System (système européen d’autorisation et d’information concernant les voyages) in 2023. The system, which will become obligatory for all non-EU residents in order to travel to France using the 90/180-day rule, requires visitors to register online for a visa/travel authorisation prior to travel in a similar way to the ESTA short-stay visa system in the United States. You can find out more about ETIAS here.
However, the good news for travellers is that this system will not be introduced in 2023 after all. The EU Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs have now updated the proposed date to 2024 on the official ETIAS website. This is the latest in a number of delays and postponements, and for the moment, no date has been given for the 2024 launch. We’ll keep you updated when we know more.
Note that this news does not affect the EES (Entry and Exit System), another change for travellers to the EU set to come into effect in 2023. The proposed date for this is still November 2023.
2. Fuel cap at TotalEnergies stations
TotalEnergies, France’s multinational oil giant, has announced a fuel cap that will be put in place across all TotalEnergies petrol stations in France. The announcement came after fears of further rises in oil prices caused French President Emmanuel Macron to call on the Big Oil company to reduce its prices at the pump. Macron pointed out the company’s record €19.5 billion net profit in 2022.
In response, TotalEnergies have now announced the implementation of a €1.99 per litre fuel cap on both petrol and diesel, which will be rolled out at the start of March (it’s already in place at motorway gas stations) and will remain in place throughout 2024. Prior to this, around half of the country’s filling stations had prices topping the €2 mark, with many others expected to join them in the coming weeks.
While we’re on the subject of cars, if you’re from a low-income household and use your car for work, don’t forget to claim your €100 government fuel allowance. The deadline for applications has been extended through to the end of March, but you must apply online – find out more here.
3. Pension strikes continue
The next major strike planned in France is set for March 7th – next Tuesday – with both the UK and French governments warning of delays and disruptions to travel on this day. Flights and ferries to France are likely to be affected, along with SNCF trains throughout France and public transport within large major cities. As is typical of these multi-union strikes, schools, Mairies, and other public buildings are also expected to close.
It’s advised to avoid travelling to and around France on this day if at all possible, but if you can’t reschedule, keep a close eye on the latest transport information and leave extra time to account for any delays.
The nationwide strikes are being organised in protest to the government’s controversial pension reform plans, which include raising the minimum retirement age to 64 and the end of certain special regime pensions. The pension bill is currently being debated by the Senate, who has a deadline of March 12th to vote on the bill.
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