Macron’s controversial pension reform bill has now been signed into law, but does that mean the end of the strikes? Plus, the EU issues a warning about scam ETIAS websites, and send us your visa and healthcare questions. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Macron signs pension reform into law
The latest news regarding Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reform bill – the reason behind the ongoing strikes and protests that have hit France over the last three months – came last Friday, April 14th, when the Constitutional Council approved the bill. The constitutional ruling was the last legal possibility for preventing the government from moving ahead with the reforms, and they approved almost all of the bill’s key legislation, including raising the minimum retirement age to 64 and extending the years of work required to qualify for a full pension. The pension changes are set to come into action from September 1st, 2023.
There were six minor provisions rejected from the bill, specifically concerning contracts for older workers, and the Constitutional Council also overturned a bid for a referendum on the retirement age.
Off the back of the approval of the Constitutional Council, Macron signed the bill into law the next day (Saturday, April 15th). Yesterday (April 17th), the President made a live TV address to the nation, stating that he had “heard the anger of the French people” and stated a desire to “move on”, as well as insisting that his “door will always be open” for unions to discuss working conditions moving forward.
2. The latest on France’s strikes and travel disruptions
The pension reform bill might now be written into French law, but the strikes and manifestations surrounding it look set to continue… at least over the next two weeks. The next major day of protest is set for May 1st, a bank holiday or jour férié in France, when union-led marches are being planned across the country.
This Thursday, April 20th, SNCF workers have declared a “day of angry protest”, although a strike notice hasn’t been filed, and it’s not quite clear what this will entail. The CGT union has also called for a further strike on Friday, April 28th, but this won’t be a multi-union strike and is likely to cause much less disruption than previous strikes.
As with all other strikes, if you’re travelling on the aforementioned days, be sure to keep up to date with the latest news and announcements from your travel provider.
3. ETIAS scam warning
EU border agency Frontex has issued a warning over unofficial websites offering the ETIAS EU visa. Some 50 fraudulent websites have been identified as offering ETIAS tourist visas for non-EU travellers visiting France or other EU countries. The legitimacy of such websites has been called into question – some may be legal services offering to carry out the visa application on your behalf (for an inflated fee), others may be scams – and tourists are being warned not to give out their personal data or make payments to such companies.
The ETIAS visa scheme was set to come into action this year, but it has now been postponed until 2024, so you will not need an ETIAS visa to travel to France in 2023. When the visas do come into law, you will be able to register on the official website for a fee of €7. It’s likely to be a simple process, and the majority of tourists won’t need additional help to apply.
4. Send us your visas & health insurance questions
There’s still time to send in your questions for our upcoming FrenchEntrée Moving to France: Long-Stay Visa Applications & Health Insurance webinar, which takes place next Thursday.
Kicking off our new Moving to France webinar series, we’ll be focusing on long-stay visa applications and health insurance – the first steps to becoming resident in France. I’ll be joined by expert advisors from French Connections HCB and FAB French Insurance, who will be answering some of your most frequently asked questions on long-stay visas, the visa application process, and the health insurance requirements, with plenty of top tips and essential advice.
If you’re a non-EU citizen looking to move to France to work or study, plan to retire to France, or perhaps just want to enjoy a long stay at your French second home – this is your chance to put your questions to the experts! As always, you can send your questions in advance to me at [email protected].
Sign up for our free Moving to France: Long-Stay Visa Applications & Health Insurance webinar here on Thursday, 27th April or click the button below.
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