France’s Labor Ministry released data on Monday, August 27, showing that unemployment in France had risen for the 15th straight month in July, reaching its highest level in 13 years, growing 1.4 percent from June, Reuters and 20 Minutes reported. Adding 41,300 unemployed to a total of 2,987,100 in France, the data shows that the number of unemployed in France has grown 8.5 percent in the last year, according to Les Echos.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on Wednesday, August 22, that the government would temporarily cut taxes on gasoline to ease pressure of rising fuel prices, reaching as high as €1.70 per liter ($8 per gallon) in the Paris region, as the government looks for longer-term solutions to the nation’s high gas prices, Bloomberg reported. Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici later indicated that France could face additional relief from such high prices as the International Energy Agency seemed open to release emergency reserves at a level possibly comparable to that of a plan a year ago which released 60 million barrels, according to The Chicago Tribune and La Tribune. After France became the first nation last year to ban hydraulic fracturing of shale gas – the controversial practice commonly known as fracking – Ayrault indicated this week that the extraction and exploitation of shale gas remained a possibility, to be explored at a governmental summit on environmental policy on September 14, as covered by UPI.
Arnaud Montebourg, minister of industrial renewal, sparked controversy this week by referring on Sunday, August 26, to nuclear energy as an “industry of the future,” causing allies and opponents of the Socialist government to question whether President François Hollande intended to follow through with campaign promises to reduce the nation’s commitment to nuclear energy, France 24 reported. Cécile Duflot, housing minister and leader of the allied anti-nuclear Europe Ecology – The Greens party responded that the government remained committed to cutting the nation’s reliance on nuclear energy and responded that actions, not the personal opinions of fellow ministers, would show the government’s commitment to reduce the contested energy source, which comprises more than 75 percent of the energy produced in France, according to Le Télégramme. L’Express explored the several fractures that have emerged between the Socialist majority and its allies to the left – not only the future of nuclear energy but also the recent continuation of deportations of France’s Roma population.
Three months out from the election of the new head of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, former Budget Minister Jean-François Copé launched his campaign on Sunday, August 26, to lead the party, which lost its majority in all branches of government in the past year, setting the stage to face off with François Fillon, prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, The Guardian et Ouest-France reported. Former Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and former Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire have also declared their intention to seek the leadership of the nation’s conservative party, though both face a struggle to receive the required number of endorsements required to qualify, as covered by Le Monde.
President François Hollande issued a decree on Monday, August 20, to revoke from John Galliano the status as chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur a year after the British fashion designer was charged and fined €6,000 for public anti-Semitic insults, The New York Times and Le Point reported. The decision, published by France’s national journal on Wednesday, August 22, reflects the new president’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism in France, according to The Telegraph. Galliano was admitted to the Légion d’Honneur in 2009 by former President Nicolas Sarkozy.