News Digest: France Raises Terrorist Threat Level & Misses Budget Targets



News Digest: France Raises Terrorist Threat Level & Misses Budget Targets

France has raised its terrorist threat level following this weekend’s attack in Moscow, plus the figures are in on the 2023 Budget, and they aren’t good! Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. France raises terrorist threat level

The French government raised national security alert warnings to the highest level yesterday (Monday, March 25th) in response to the terrorist attack at a Moscow concert hall on Sunday – for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal made the announcement, stating that 4,000 additional French soldiers would be mobilised to increase security at sites vulnerable to attack, such as religious sites, transport hubs, and venues.

The last time the country was on high alert was in October last year, after the Islamist-inspired attack on a teacher at an Arras school, but it had been dropped back down to normal levels in January 2024.

With France, particularly Paris, about to face a busy summer hosting the 2024 Olympic Games, Attal assured the French media that “The Islamist terrorist threat is real, strong, and we are fully mobilised to face it”.

2. French deficit worsens to “very rare” level

The numbers are in on France’s 2023 budget, and it’s not good news for President Macron, who promised to get the nation’s finances back on track within the next four years. The budget shows that France’s deficit widened even more than forecast during 2023, jumping to 5.5% of GDP (or €154 billion) according to INSEE; a whopping 6% more than the predicted 4.9%. Although the government had warned that it would likely overshoot its deficit estimate, this represents a major increase, the likes of which are “very rare” according to Pierre Moscovici, head of France’s Court of Accounts. The global economic slowdown and the Ukraine war were cited as the main reasons.

Like all Eurozone members, France has committed to keeping its deficit below 3%, which Macron had promised to achieve by 2027. But it’s not off to a good start. Minister for Public Accounts, Thomas Cazenave, estimates that France will need to make at least €20 billion in savings for 2025 to get back on track, and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he was “calling for a collective wake-up call to reduce public spending”.

While there will certainly be cuts on the horizon, Le Maire insisted that he is “totally opposed to any tax increase”.

3. Sign up for our Visas & Residency webinar

If you’re looking to move to France and have questions about visas and residency, then make sure to sign up for our free webinar on Thursday, 18th April, 16.00 BST (17.00 French time) . I’ll be joined by expert advisors from Lexidy, English-speaking France immigration lawyers, and FAB French Insurance for a comprehensive look at the road to permanent residency in France.

We’ll be covering everything from that initial visa application to applying for your Carte de Sejour, ensuring you have all the latest information and advice for a smooth transition to France in 2024.

As always, you can send your questions to me in advance at [email protected], and you can sign up for the free webinar here or by clicking the button below.

4. Happy Easter!

France, like many countries around the world, will be celebrating Easter this weekend, with Easter Sunday falling on March 31st. In celebration, Easter Monday – which is also April 1st or April Fools Day – is a bank holiday or jour férié throughout the country.

If you’re lucky enough to like in the Alsace-Lorraine region, however, you’ll also enjoy a bank holiday on Good Friday (March 29th) – because of the area’s long connections with Germany, it’s the only place in France that has an official four-day weekend for Easter!

Read our guide to Celebrating Easter or Paques Like a Local in France.

Finally, don’t forget that the clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday, too – all the more reason for an Easter Sunday lie-in!

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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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