A proposed bill may give Brits post-Brexit and other non-EU citizens in France the right to vote in French elections, there’s a new grant for electric bikes available, plus is your home at risk of flash floods? Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Could Foreigners Have the Right to Vote in France?
Since the UK left the EU, one key right that has been taken away from British citizens resident in France is the right to vote in local elections. As it stands, only French or EU citizens are allowed to vote in these elections, in which the city’s conseillers municipaux (local councils) and mayor are elected. After Brexit, many elected British conseillers municipaux had to step down from their positions due to their change in status as non-EU citizens, and it’s been a subject of debate in expat communities around France ever since.
Last week, Sacha Houlié, an MP for Macron’s LREM party, filed a bill to allow non-EU citizens the right to vote and stand for office in local elections. Houlié, who represents Vienne, said that he was fulfilling a campaign promise by submitting the bill and that it would be debated by the Assemblée Nationale when they return from their summer break.
Will the bill be approved? With steep opposition from the right and little backing from the left, it seems unlikely. If the bill did pass it would, it would allow UK citizens and other non-EU citizens resident in France to vote and stand for office in local elections. However, as is typical of most countries around the world, only French citizens would be able to vote in the legislative and presidential elections.
2. Is Your French Home Prepared for Flash Floods?
In the wake of France’s recent stretch of hot weather, which has not only seen record-breaking temperatures sweep the country, but some of the most devastating wildfires to date, the National Federation of French Firefighters (Fédération nationale des sapeurs-pompiers de France/ FNSPF) have now issued a warning for homeowners in areas at risk of flash floods. As the heatwave breaks, storms and heavy rainfall are predicted, and this, in combination with the dry, hard ground caused by the heatwave, can quickly lead to floods. Back in 2020, Storm Alex caused some of the worst floods seen in more than 120 years in the south of France, in which 10 people lost their lives.
So, what can you do to prepare your home in the event of a flash flood? Recommendations are to store valuables and important documents in a safe place, ideally on an upper floor or as far from ground level as possible; move any valuables and (where possible) furniture out of the basement; keep torches, a battery-operated radio, and essential food and medicines in your house (again, away from ground level); park your car in the garage or tie it down to prevent it from drifting; close and secure rubbish bins; and plug water entry points such as doors and ground-floor windows wherever possible.
In the event of a flood, always shelter in a hard building with a floor, upstairs wherever possible; do not attempt to access the basement or ground floor if it is already flooded; and contact your local fire service (see our guide to what to do in an emergency here).
3. On Your (Electric) Bike!
If you live in France and fancy treating yourself to an electric bike (vélo à assistance électrique/VAE), you might qualify for a state grant to help you upgrade your wheels. As part of their bid to encourage residents to choose more environmentally friendly methods of transport (with the added bonus of being good for your cardiovascular health), the “Bonus Vélo de l’État” is available to all lower-income households.
The amount available, which was previously capped at €200, was yesterday (August 15) increased to €300, providing that it doesn’t total more than 40% of the total price. For cargo bikes, the grant amount has increased to €1,000.
There are, of course, a few conditions. In order to qualify, you must be resident in France, over 18, and your revenu fiscal de référence (your taxable income as marked on your French tax return) must be less than or equal to €13,489. You must be buying a new bike with a non-lead battery, and you are not able to sell the bike within a year of buying it.
Find out more about the grants and start the application process here.
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