French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has long withheld any disclosure on his intentions for the 2012 presidential elections now two months away, is set to officially declare his candidacy to seek reelection in a television announcement on Wednesday, February 15, Reuters reported. The announcement is expected to be followed shortly by a quick series of appearances, including what would be his first public rally in Annecy on Thursday, February 16, and a speech to deliver his official campaign platform in Marseilles on Sunday, February 19, according to BBC and Ouest-France. As speculation grows, Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is expected to serve as the spokesperson for Sarkozy’s re-election campaign, as covered by RFI and le Nouvel Observatuer.
Finance Minister François Baroin confirmed on Tuesday, February 14, that the economic-growth figures for 2011 set to be released on Wednesday, February 15, will demonstrate the slowing effect that could confirm previous predictions that France could enter recession in 2012, les Echos reported. On Tuesday, February 14, INSEE, the national statistics office, released figures showing that France dropped 0.2 percent of its salaried positions in the fourth quarter of 2011, losing 31,900 posts across the nation. The unemployment rate in France is at its highest level in more than a decade, as 2.87 million active French people were without jobs in late December 2011, according to l’Express.
A report by nuclear experts released on Monday, February 13, recommended that France prolong the life of nuclear reactors from 40 to 60 years, driving shares of Electricité de France up 4.3 percent and sparking further debate on the hotly contested topic of nuclear energy two months before the presidential elections, according to Bloomberg and la Libération. The report concluded that, though energy prices will continue to rise, they would stay lowest if nuclear energy remains a primary source of energy for the French, according to Reuters and le Point.
A Lyon court found agricultural giant Monsanto responsible on Monday, February 13, for the poisoning of a French farmer, Paul François, who brought the case against the world’s largest seed company with complaints of neurological damage caused by the 2004 inhalation of a weed-killer produced by Monsanto, the Washington Post reported. François launched a legal battle against the agro-giant, claiming that Monsanto did not provide adequate warning about the effects of its hazardous weed-killer, bringing the first such case to French courts, as covered by Reuters and TF1. Monsanto representatives said they planned to appeal the case, according to BBC.
Representatives of France’s air-workers unions met with the Ministry of Transport on Friday, February 10, after a prolonged strike caused hundreds of flights to be canceled through Thursday, February 9, les Echos and CBS reported. The negotiation ended with little resolved, as the various representatives held strong to their opposing views, according to la Libération.