Emmanuel Macron is to give up his own generous presidential pension in an attempt to calm anger over politicians’ privileges, as French transport strikes caused chaos for Christmas travelers. Macron, who turned 42 this weekend, made the symbolic move to become the first president in more than 50 years to give up the automatic pension of more than €6,000 a month that all French leaders receive after leaving office.
A nationwide strike has severely disrupted schools and public transport across France. Workers are angry at being forced to retire later or face reduced pensions. School and transport workers have been joined by police, lawyers, and hospital and airport staff. France’s largest nationwide strike in years was agreed by unions unhappy with President Emmanuel Macron’s plans for a universal points-based pension system.
The Trump administration is threatening to slap import taxes on $2.4bn worth of French goods in retaliation for the country’s new digital services tax. The US says the tax penalizes firms like Google, Amazon and Facebook, and is proposing to hit back with tariffs of up to 100% on products including cheese, champagne and handbags. The digital tax is designed to prevent tech firms from dodging taxes.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed when two helicopters collided during an operation against jihadists in Mali, the French president’s office said. It’s believed to be the biggest single loss of life for the French military since the 1980s. An investigation has begun. In 2013, France deployed thousands of troops to Mali after Islamist militants seized huge parts of the north.
A tiny early Renaissance masterpiece found in a French woman’s kitchen during a house clearance has fetched more than €24m at auction, making it the most expensive medieval painting ever sold. Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century Florentine painter Cimabue, had hung for decades above a cooking hotplate in the open-plan kitchen of a 1960s house near Compiègne, north of Paris.
French detectives are continuing to work to establish the motive of a state employee who killed four colleagues with a kitchen knife inside Paris’s police headquarters on Thursday. The assailant, named in the media as Mickaël H, 45, had held an administrative job in the IT department for more than 15 years. Questions remain over what might have led him to carry out the attack, which is being treated as potentially a personal issue.
Former French President Jacques Chirac has died at the age of 86. In Paris today a minute’s silence was held in the National Assembly when the former President’s death was announced. In a long career which began under Charles de Gaulle, Chirac was twice Prime Minister of France before serving as head of state from 1995 to 2007. During his term his opposition to the Iraq War put him at loggerheads with George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
Two heatwaves that hit France this summer claimed more than 1,500 more lives, health minister Agnes Buzyn has said. This year’s heatwaves hit France in June and July, with a new record temperature of 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded in the south on 28 June. The toll was significantly lower than the disastrous summer of 2003, when an estimated 15,000 people died during an August heatwave.
Brazilian women are probably ashamed of President Jair Bolsonaro, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, hitting back after the Brazilian leader mocked Macron’s wife on Facebook. The leaders have been feuding in recent weeks, with Macron blaming Bolsonaro for fires in the Amazon and accusing him of lying about climate change policy. Bolsonaro responded on Sunday to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron’s 66-year-old wife Brigitte.
French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters from Paris’s Champs Elysees avenue on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron had reviewed the traditional Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders. Paris authorities had banned ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations near the parade but several groups linked to the movement had called for gatherings around the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day, a national holiday in France.