News Digest: King Charles Cancels France Trip Amid Ongoing Strikes & Your TAX Questions Answered!
Pension strikes continue in France today, there’s talk of a new deal for post-Brexit school trips, and it’s the last chance to sign up for our free French tax webinar. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. This week’s strike news
Another week, another fresh wave of strikes and protests in France. Today (Tuesday, 28th March) marks the 10th mass day of action, with all eight of France’s unions joining forces for another day of nationwide strikes, protests, and manifestations.
Expect delays and cancellations on TGV and TER trains, short-haul flights, and public transport in Paris (most services seem to be running throughout the rest of the country, although you might still see some disruptions or delays). Tourist attractions, including The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Versailles, will also be affected, with either closures or limited opening hours, and schools will once again be closed. As with previous strikes, expect marches and demonstrations to be held in cities around France and possible blockades or traffic disruptions. Although strikes in France are rarely violent (and most reported incidents do tend to be isolated events), the general advice remains to stay home and avoid travelling if you can.
In other strike news, blockades of oil refineries are continuing to cause petrol and diesel shortages around the country, with the worst-affected areas being the Ile de France, Brittany, and Pays de la Loire regions, where up to 30% of gas stations are now reporting shortages. Even if your region hasn’t been drastically affected by the shortages, you might still find longer than usual queues, limits on how much petrol or diesel you can purchase at a time, and closures of rural gas stations at night.
Finally, images of Paris’ growing waste collection struggles (the results of an ongoing garbage collectors strike) have made the international news, but with many workers now being forced back to work, clean-up operations are underway. However, it’s estimated to take at least a week to get through the backlog, so don’t expect the streets of Paris to return to normal just yet.
2. King Charles III cancels visit
The ongoing strikes and increasing incidents of police clashes, fires, and violence (don’t worry, the strikes still do remain largely peaceful) have led British King Charles III to cancel his upcoming state visit to France. The new King was set to make France his first official overseas trip this week, with hope for this to further strengthen the renewed Franco-British alliance presented by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his recent visit.
However, with strike action ongoing, French President Emmanuel Macron requested that the trip be postponed in order to “welcome His Majesty King Charles III in conditions which reflect our friendly relations” at a later date. The hope is that the King’s state visit can be reorganised for this summer, but official dates are yet to be announced.
3. Will French schoolchildren once again be able to visit the UK?
Speaking of the recent Franco-British summit, one of the projects discussed by Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron was a new deal to help re-instate school trips between France and the UK. Annual school trips and language exchanges for schoolchildren from both countries were hugely popular prior to Brexit, but the new post-Brexit travel rules – in particular, the requirements for all French children to have a passport being as French ID cards are not valid for travel outside of the EU – have seen the majority of these trips cancelled.
Both Macron and Sunak were in agreement over plans to bring in a special school travel scheme, allowing for a collective travel document allowing for a class of children to travel together under a single visa (and without the need for individual passports). While it has not yet been made official, this is definitely a positive step forward, and we’ll keep you updated when we hear more.
Talk of this possible deal has also stoked hope for second-home owners who have been pushing France to offer a more simplified visa scheme or relax travel rules for those with property in the country. However, it’s important to understand that one of the reasons a school trip scheme may be possible is because it is a deal that could (in theory) be negotiated solely between the UK and France (and would concern a single, organised trip) without having implications across the entire EU zone. This would not be the case with a second-home visa or similar, which would potentially affect the rest of the EU and/or set precedents for other EU countries.
4. Last chance to sign up for this week’s TAX webinar!
Tax season is almost upon us (2023 income tax declarations open on April 13th), so now’s the time to put all your questions about French taxes and tax returns to our expert. This week’s free FrenchEntrée webinar takes place on THURSDAY, when I’ll be joined by our expert advisor, Eliane Rakotonoel from Elitax.
Eliane will be answering all your most frequently asked questions regarding French taxes, tax returns, and wealth tax, and we’ll try and put as many of your live questions to her, too. 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.
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