Regional News • Europe • European Union
Germany backs France in new EU recovery fund proposal

The Franco-German agreement supports a €500 billion recovery fund to be distributed as grants, not requiring direct repayment from the countries receiving the funds. Recognizing the exceptional nature of the challenges posed by the pandemic, this is the first time Berlin has agreed to a plan based on grants instead of loans. The proposal is now in the hands of the European Commission and would require approval from all EU member states.

Regional News • Europe • France
Drone surveillance banned by the French State Council

Since the 11th of May, end of the COVID-19 full-lockdown in France, the French government is using drones in Paris to ensure citizens are applying the post-lockdown rules properly.

Today, after a complain from different NGOs, the French State Council, highest administrative court in France, considered drone surveillance was a dangerous threat to privacy, and ordered the Government to stop their usage immediately.

Regional News • Africa
Rwandan genocide key suspect arrested in France

Félicien Kabuga, accused of funding the massacres in Rwanda in 1994, was on the run for 25 years.

He has been arrested by the French police today near Paris where he was living under a false identity.

About 800 000 people were killed during the Rwandan genocide.

The French judicial authority should rapidly rule on sending Félicien Kabuga to The Hague international court.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German government approves easing of border controls from Saturday on
Sunset on Brandenburg Gate
Sunset on Brandenburg Gate Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Germany will begin easing its border controls with France, Switzerland and Austria on Saturday, according to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Border controls will remain in place, but only random checks will be carried out. Additionally, all border crossings between these countries will be reopened, rather than selected ones at present. The use of spot checks should ease traffic jams for commuters over the border, who have been allowed to cross.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • TV & Movies
Cannes Film Festival to announce Selection in June
Viewers in cinema
Viewers in cinema Credit:

A spokesperson of the Cannes Film Festival has announced that they will announce "films from the (initial Official) Selection at the beginning of June". The fall film festival is currently ruling out a physical festival but might organize a “redeployment ‘outside the walls’ (of Cannes), in collaboration with fall festivals", including festivals such as Venice, Toronto and New York.

Regional News • World
Dispute between US and China over the U.N. Security Council Covid-19 resolution

Opposite positions about the World Health Organization are paralyzing the U.N. Security Council decision about Covid-19 crisis.

China thinks the WHOs role is major in the current pandemic crisis management, hence it should be explicitly included in any resolution; while the US remains extremely critical against the WHO since President Donal Trump accused the organization of failure and decided to suspend their funding in April.

Yesterday, Tunisia, Security Council elected member, and France, permanent member, made a joint proposal for a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in major conflicts to ease better management of the pandemic.

France reports that first local patient had been infected with Covid-19 in December

The head of emergency medicine at the Avicenne and Jean-Verdier hospital near Paris has stated that a patient, that has been treated for suspected pneumonia in December, was actually infected with Covid-19. On the 27th of December, a swab was taken and recently tested for the coronavirus. The test came back positive, but it is unclear where the patient has gotten the virus since he stated that he did not travel to foreign countries previous to the hospital treatment. The patient has since then recovered.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Air France-KLM obtain European Union approval for a 7 billion euros bailout
Air France Airbus A380-800, landing on Washington Dulles International Airport
Air France Airbus A380-800, landing on Washington Dulles International Airport Credit: Joe Ravi (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Union's competition watchdog on Monday approved French state aid worth 7 billion euros for Air France-KLM.

Conditions for the funding. Include the requirement for the company to be a “good customer” for European planemaker Airbus SE, which is also struggling, and a revamp of loss-making services within France.

“There will be an elimination of domestic routes,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday on France-Inter radio, adding that the state aid is tied to “Air France becoming the company that most respects the environment.”

Regional News • Europe • France
France set to Impose a two-week coronavirus quarantine for travellers

Health Minister Olivier Veran stated travelers to France, including citizens returning home, will be imposed a two-week quarantine and possible isolation when they arrive in the country to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Veran said the duration and conditions of quarantine for asymptomatic people and isolation for those showing symptoms of COVID-19 would be defined in a decree to be published.

Decisions to isolate people would be scrutinized by judges to ensure they are justified and fair, he added.

Business • Economy
French state railway SNCF estimates a loss of 2 billion euros due to Covid-19
A SNCF TGV inOui Reseau Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon
A SNCF TGV inOui Reseau Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon Credit: Superalbs (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

“The virus, for the moment, means we’re missing about 2 billion euros in revenue,” SNCF Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Farandou told France Inter radio. “It wouldn’t be abnormal to think of an aid plan for the SNCF,” he added.

Public transport operators reduced their service after France decided to curb non-essential travels in mid-March. While the lockdown will progressively be lifted from May 11, it is unclear when train traffic will return to normal.

Business • Economy
Eurozone economy shrinks 3.8% in first quarter
The Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014.
The Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014. Credit: Diliff (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The eurozone’s gross domestic product fell 3.8% versus the final three months of 2019, according to data released Thursday, as measures imposed to limit the Covid-19 pandemic’s spread stalled everything from schools to factories to churches.

Separate figures revealed a steep fall in economic activity in France (5.8%) and Spain (5.1%) over the same period.

Sports • Soccer
PSG awarded Ligue 1 title, Amiens and Toulouse relegated
Parc des Princes before a PSG game
Parc des Princes before a PSG game Credit: Zakarie Faibis (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

French League (LFP) announced Paris St Germain (PSG) have been awarded its seventh Ligue 1 title in eight years after the season was ended amid the COVID-19 crisis.

PSG had a 12-point lead over second-placed Marseille when the season was suspended as part of the French government’s measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus last month. The LFP also crowned Lorient as Ligue 2 champions in a conference call.

“We have decided there would be two promotions and two relegations,” Didier Quillot, the chief executive of the French League, told a news conference. It means Amiens and Toulouse will be relegated and Lorient and Lens will be promoted.

Sports • Soccer
Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora believes Serie A clubs should be "thinking about next season"

After France, the Netherlands, and Belgium leagues called off their seasons, Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora stated: "These decisions could push Italy to follow this line, which would become a European line".

Spadafora also said "If the championship should ever resume, it will certainly be behind closed doors,"

No professional sports in France until September

No professional sport will be occurring in France until September. The 2019-2020 seasons for all domestic professional sports leagues, including professional soccer in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, will not be completed either in public or behind closed doors.

The Tour de France had been rescheduled by the International Cycling Union for August 29th to September 20th, 2020. The statement leaves a degree of uncertainty about the status of the Tour de France, which was not specifically mentioned by Edouard Philippe in ruling out sport before the start of September.

French police seize 140,000 face masks destined for sale on the black market.
A surgical mask (left) and an FFP1 mask (right) often used to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A surgical mask (left) and an FFP1 mask (right) often used to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Credit: (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

French police officers say they caught a businessman unloading 140,000 face masks from a lorry into a house in St Denis, north of Paris.

The seized masks included 5,000 FFP2 masks for use with coronavirus patients and a big number of surgical masks.

Police arrested the suspected seller, a 60-year-old man who had bought the masks in the Netherlands. A second suspect was a 46-year-old who was allegedly about to buy some of the stock to sell on.

Last month, France requisitioned all stocks and production of face masks to equip health workers.

Climate & Environment
French company Carbios creates enzyme that recycles plastic bottles in hours

While current recycling technologies are only able to break plastic bottles down to chemical building blocks that are suitable for reuse in clothing and carpets, the new enzyme makes it possible to recycle plastic bottles and make new bottles out of them. The French company Carbios cooperates with companies like Pepsi and says that it is aiming to bring the new recycling technology to industrial size within five years.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Literature
French illustrator Albert Uderzo dies aged 92

Albert Uderzo, the illustrator behind the french comic Astérix le Gaulois (Astérix​ and Obelix) has died in his sleep after suffering a heart attack on March, 24th. He passed away at his home in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. His son-in-law, Bernard de Choisy stated, that Uderzo's death was unrelated to the coronavirus.

Macron announces complete lockdown of France

Following the spread of the coronavirus and rising death tolls, President Macron has announced that France will go on a complete lockdown starting March 17, noon. Residents must stay at home with the only exception being the commute to and from work, going grocery shopping and doctor visits. People not abiding the regulations will face punishments. Together with this, the second round of local elections has been postponed and the borders to other countries have been closed.

Disney World Florida closes amidst Covid-19 outbreak

Following the global spread of the coronavirus Disney is taking measures and closes down Disney World in Orlando, Florida as well as the Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California and the Disneyland in Paris, France. With these parks closing all eleven Disney parks around the world are now closed due to the coronavirus pandemia.