Speaking at the inauguration of AS Monaco’s new training centre in La Turbie, CEO Jean-Emmanuel de Witt revealed discussions between the club and the Monaco government are taking place over the future of Stade Louis II.
The Principality club will celebrate its centenary in 2024, and whilst Monaco already have a brand new elite-level training facility perched upon the rocks above the Principality, could they have a new stadium to match?
The Stade Louis II is an iconic stadium, instantly recognisable and memorable for its arches and unique architecture. But fans of the club have this season protested about its current state.
Monaco’s Ultras unfurled a banner during the club’s recent match against RC Lens, describing the Stade Louis II as “empty” and “decrepit” and calling for the government to act.
The 16,000-seater stadium was inaugurated back in 1985 by Prince Rainier III and has changed little since.
But on Monday, AS Monaco CEO Jean-Emmanuel de Witt alluded to the possibility of work being done on the iconic venue in the not-so distant future.
“We hope, and we are already in discussions with the Monégasque authorities to consider work on the stadium, which are already planned,” said de Witt in Tuesday’s training facility unveiling. “We just need to define the exact outline and the timings. It is a very, very important topic for our development. We have seen stadiums, for example the one we visited on Sunday [OGC Nice’s Allianz Riviera], that are far ahead of us.”
Whilst the Stade Louis II is also used to host the Herculis athletics event in the summer, as well as a range of other annual events, AS Monaco are “by far the biggest user of the stadium”, as de Witt stated, and the club are therefore hoping to replicate what has been done in La Turbie, in Monaco.
“It is very important for the spectacle, but also for the players, to accompany them with the necessary infrastructure during the match and also to accompany our fans,” de Witt concluded.
The Prince’s government is yet to confirm talks between the two entities.
The weekly Covid statistics are out and show that circulation remains low throughout Monaco, although the European Commission has warned against complacency in the lead up to winter.
The government’s wrap for the week ending 4th September showed that only 37 new Covid cases were detected in Monaco from the 874 PCR or antigen tests conducted over the period.
It equates to a positivity rate of 10.3%, lowering the overall incidence rate to 95 compared to 107 the week before.
As of Monday, 10 patients, including five residents, were being treated in hospital for the virus, with none in intensive care, and only 20 people were being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.
It indicates a positive health situation in the Principality, and a marked distance from the peak of the Omicron wave in early July when the incidence rate was as high as 994.
In the neighbouring French region of the Alpes-Maritimes, the incidence rate is also quite low, at 200, while the positivity figure sits at around 17%.
European Commission rallies Member States to prepare for autumn and winter
The Covid-19 summer wave, driven by Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, showed that the pandemic is not yet over, but as populations experienced pandemic fatigue, all EU Member States lifted most restrictions. The European Commission fears that this change in behaviour will make it easier for the virus to circulate again rapidly in the EU, opening the door to the emergence of new variants that could evade immunity, spread more easily, or cause more severe disease.
It is therefore proposing new measures to avoid a resurgence of the virus in autumn and winter, including a new round of vaccinations adapted to the Omicron variant.
“The past two years have prepared the EU to face another Covid-19 wave this autumn and winter,” said Vice-President for Promoting European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas. “Our actions now will greatly determine the future of the pandemic and the level of immunity that can be built up in the population. Member States should continue coordination of preparedness efforts across the EU, ahead of the next wave and further rollout of vaccination programmes. Taking action now will limit the pressure on healthcare systems, disruptions of the economies and challenges for the society.”
The EC will be taking steps to encourage those who are unvaccinated to get inoculated, as well as asking that people get boosters, especially the vulnerable and those over the age of 60.
They are also considering the idea of combining the seasonal flu and Covid shots so people can be protected against both.
Photo source: Government Communication Department
Europe’s energy crisis worsens as euro hits 20-year low
The euro has dipped below the US$1 mark to reach a 20-year low, inflation is more than four times the expected amount, and energy prices are soaring in advance of what may be a long, cold winter. Are these short-term blips or is Europe in serious crisis?
Recession, rising inflation, dizzyingly high energy and food costs, and of course, ongoing war are all starting to take their toll and European consumers are going to bear the brunt.
Monday saw a series of reports with a cascade of bad news starting with the euro hitting a 20-year low against the US dollar, dropping to below $0.99, amidst energy crisis fears brought on by Russia’s decision to stop gas supplies from their main pipeline to Europe.
The link between the euro and gas prices has been tight in recent months. When natural gas prices go up, the euro has gone down, and as Europe struggles to throw off the yoke of Russian gas dependency, investors foresee a rough winter ahead.
“Gas flows have been curtailed even more than expected and we have already seen evidence of demand destruction weighing on activity,” said Michael Cahill, a strategist at Goldman Sachs.“We now expect the euro to fall further below parity ($0.97) and remain around that level for the next six months.”
Recession is almost a certainty
At the same time, surveys on Monday show that the euro zone is almost certainly heading into recession. The European Central Bank (ECB) is under pressure with inflation running at over 9% and faces the possibility of having to raise interest rates dramatically, to as high as an unparalleleed 75 basis points, at the same time as the economy downturn.
The ECB, which meets this Thursday, is hoping to try and stabilise the euro, which has lost roughly 8% of its value in the past three months.
S&P Global’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), seen as a guide to economic health, fell to an 18-month low of 48.9 in August from July’s 49.9, below a preliminary 49.2 estimate. Anything below 50 indicates contraction.
“The PMI surveys signal that the euro area is entering recession earlier than we previously thought, led by its largest economy Germany, and we now see the euro area ‘enjoying’ a longer, three quarter recession,” said Peter Schaffrik from the Royal Bank of Canada. “The revision is mainly due to developments in energy prices which, even after retreating over recent days, remain elevated and which mean that the impact on household spending will be larger than we hitherto anticipated.”
France rushes to bring back nuclear reactors
Gas prices rose as much as 30% in Europe on Monday, adding to concerns over shortages and the possibility that people will be unable to keep up with the rising energy costs.
France, which normally exports energy, has badly timed extensive maintenance on 32 of its 56 nuclear reactors. The country relies on nuclear energy for two-thirds of its electricity, with only 7% reliant on gas.
In a last-minute scramble to bring as many reactors back online as possible, EDF, the French company that operates them, has been pushed to work full steam ahead to rectify the situation.
“There’s a schedule that provides that starting from October, each week, a new (nuclear) plant is operational again,” Agnes Pannier-Runacher, France’s Energy Minister, said.
She added that the government will “closely monitor” the situation of the plants that reported corrosion issues and assured that EDF has “started taking action and they must confirm to us that it is progressing as they had planned.”
Photo by Maryna Yazbeck on Unsplash
Podcast Interview: Frédéric Genta on the great digital transition
Monaco is on a mission to create a whole new business sector: digital, and in order to attract those entrepreneurs, the Principality is passing some very bold laws, most importantly on the use of Blockchain. Fréderic Genta tells us more.
It is impossible to jump into this interview with Interministerial Delegate for the Digital Transition and Attractiveness Fréderic Genta without clarifying exactly what it is we are talking about – law number 995, which was recently adopted by the National Council.
The law builds upon law number 237 that was passed by the council in 2017. Basically, it paves the way for entrepreneurs to use blockchain technology in Monaco. It is a key part of this whole modernisation and digital transition of the Principality, because it effectively helps establish a brand new sector of activity in Monaco, and therefore, a whole new revenue stream for the State.
Monaco Life: Why is the passing of law no°995 so important for Monaco right now?
Fréderic Genta: The law was necessary because it provides the basis for the future of both the digital and finance economies; it gives the key principals, so it is a first step. We the government are very happy to have come to an agreement with the National Council. I think it’s going to equip Monaco to be extremely competitive in this area in 2023. There is still 18 months of work to make sure that every single norm is adapted, translated or created.
It effectively makes Monaco one of the first countries in the world to define blockchain, NFTs, and crypto in its law. What does that actually mean?
I think we were quite forward thinking on everything related to blockchain and consequently NFTs, then the metaverse which is a sub-part of NFTs. But we are keeping things quite flexible. Today, we have put together the blueprint for the future economy and now it is important we develop all that’s needed before the end of 2023 to be ahead of the curve.
How does this law play into the attractiveness agenda of Monaco and who is the Principality targeting by having this law?
This law is fully adapted to our ambitions and attractiveness. Monaco is more and more looking to attract active residents who have a professional life either as a CEO, entrepreneur or investor, and want to pursue and grow in the Principality. They come from European countries – 95% of our residents are from the EU, they are aged between 40 and 50, and they come with their families. We are fully aware that our residents have changed, that they have new needs, and we are really moving to target this new type of resident.
So, having a law that’s going to help the finance and digital sectors grow, by building on digital finance, is a huge asset. We are really targeting those active people who are going to come as residents, then become investors, and then entrepreneurs, because Monaco is really about the people, and those who grow the economy with the creation of companies and investments.
And it’s obviously a smart play by Monaco to pursue digital initiatives that require little office space in a country where space is enormously limited…
For sure, that is why we call the country’s transformation programme ‘Extended Monaco’, because digital is a unique opportunity to make Monaco much bigger, to make the economy much less dependent on square metres, on location and office space.
For us, digital and finance are really two key industries in a world where square metreage is rare and where people have a different approach to work. There has never been a time in history when there was such a great opportunity to be a small city-state.
For Monaco, it is a huge advantage because we can now compete to bring the best and the brightest from big cities. Some other city states have a deep understanding of that already. That’s why Singapore and Dubai are moving so fast in this area; that is why they are tailoring packages for residents and CEOs to come with their cabinets.
With the health crises, we experienced two deep transitions – the environment and digital. It is at the same time great for opportunities – space has never been so less important in an economy, but also the threat – many other competitors are coming to our segment. So, we have to be really aware of the threat while optimistic of the opportunity.
How much of the digital transition have you actually spearheaded?
Well, we were behind. When I came, we were in the bottom five of the UN in terms of digital administration. Now, I think we are about the European average and I hope soon we will be in the top 10, or top five.
Before I came, there were 25 online administrative services, today we have 110-120, so there has been a huge increase. Now, every single child in Monaco’s public education system can learn to code from ages three to 18. Last year we were ranked first in the EU in coding. Every single middle school or high school student has a tablet and access to full digital education in every class and on every topic. Monegasques now have access to a digital identity, following our adoption of the Estonian model, and they can do their government and administrative tasks online. There has been a huge improvement on many topics.
I come from a business background – I was a banker, I worked for Google, and Amazon in California, so I was growing the economies of the top tier. That’s why we invested a lot in the Blue Fund and training in Monaco. We are training more than 2,000 workers in digital, and with the Blue Fund we have helped more than 400 companies complete their digital transformation.
So, the first thing we focussed on was services, the second was how to grow our economy in a digital world and how to enable economic growth and ultimately government revenues with this digital transition. Because it is happening anyway, and we have to make sure the government and the country takes their fair share of this evolution.
Speaking of the Blue Fund (subsidies for Monegasque companies to make a digital upgrade), do we know if there is a time limit on that?
We aim to continue it next year because it has been a huge success. For every euro invested, eight euros of revenue was created by the company, which means revenues for the government and the state. It is a very virtuous cycle; we are extremely happy with the results – more than 300 jobs were created with the Blue Fund – so we are very keen to take this approach forward in the future.
Digital and economy are the same word for me. When you speak about digital you are speaking about the economy, and vice versa. It is the exact same topic in today’s world. And that’s where the attractiveness comes in to it. Monaco’s model is to attract entrepreneurs, companies, and investors. Monaco does not have a huge intermarket, it does not produce a lot. The vast amount of the wealth is created through attractivity, so by having attractivity and digital linked, there is a lot of things that can be done together to grow our economy.
What are the digital ambitions of Monaco now?
We have two objectives – first is economic growth. Monaco has to grow its economy more and more; that’s what the government has been doing with start-up hubs MonacoTech and Monaco Boost… we need to have both our classic economy and our future economy. That is the idea behind the laws.
The second is quality of life, how digital can be integrated in the big public policies such as health, education, and mobility, to get results. So, everything related to those priorities will really be pushed forward.
I believe there is also a push to simplify the company creation laws for start-ups in Monaco?
Yes, we are really thinking with the government about modernising the law for company creation, and even further about the life of a company – raising money, different vehicles to invest…
There are things that need to be done because, at the moment, our law is not fully adapted to our economy, which has changed a lot in the last years – the way companies are created, the way they grow and are funded, so we have to adapt our laws to an economy that has fundamentally changed.
Do you feel you have the support you need? Because there appear to be a number of National Councillors that share the same digital vision as you…
It is the Prince’s vision first of all. He gave four priorities to the government: attractiveness, environmental preservation, digital and security. I have the responsibility of two of those, and for sure the whole country is aligned behind the Prince on those priorities. We all know that square metres will not magically appear overnight, and we owe it to our model to have sustainable growth, but we need growth without square metreage, which means finance and digital.
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photo of Frédéric Genta source: Government Communications Department
ROKiT Venturi Racing, who finished runners-up in the Formula E world championship this year, have changed their name. The Principality team will now race under ‘Monaco Sports Group’.
The team has changed their name ahead of the ninth Formula E season, which looks set to begin in Mexico in January. The Monaco Sports Group (MSG) will be led by Scott Swid and managing partner José M Aznar Botella, whilst it has been confirmed that the team will maintain its headquarters within the Principality.
Speaking in a press release, Swid said, “After completing our most successful season in history, I’m extremely proud to open our next chapter as Monaco Sports Group from Season 9 onwards. We have the passion, determination, and experience to compete at the front of the grid, and alongside our partnership with Maserati and their return to top-tier motorsport for the first time in 60 years, we’re facilitating one of the most exciting stories in international sport.”
He continued, “This spirit stems from our own origins as one of Formula E’s founding teams when, in 2013, Venturi Automobiles President and electric mobility pioneer Gildo Pastor made the bold decision to form Venturi Racing ahead of Formula E’s first season. To honour this legacy, we will race with the same ambitious ethos as Formula E – one of the fastest-growing sporting platforms in the world – reaching new heights in 2023 with the revolutionary Gen3 car which represents the pinnacle of electric vehicle performance. I can’t begin to express how excited we are to line up on the grid in Mexico City this January as we kick off Season 9.”
Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), ROKiT Venturi Racing, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Team Principal, ROKiT Venturi Racing, Delphine Biscaye, Team Manager, ROKiT Venturi Racing, Edoardo Mortara (CHE), ROKiT Venturi Racing, and the Venturi team celebrate after securing third place in the championship. Photo source: ROKiT Venturi Racing
This year’s Trott ‘n’ Roll charity event will benefit not only children fighting for their lives but will also honour Monaco’s firefighters in a family-friendly day of outdoor pursuits, including bouncy castles, a skate park and even a parade with motorbikes where kids can join and get a ride!
The Flavien Foundation is back with their biggest event of the year. Trott ‘n’ Roll, under the slogan ‘Together, let’s save lives’, will ask the people of Monaco to join them in a day of activities and fun to raise funds and awareness to fight paediatric cancer.
The full day runs from 9am to 6pm on Saturday 17th September at the Jardins d’Apolline and Allée Sauvaigo in Monaco and will feature inflatable structures to play on, a skate park, Star Wars light sabre action, rides for kids on a motorbike parade through the streets of the Principality with a Rebel Riders Monaco Motorcycle Club, Appaloosa Riders or Indian Motorcycle Club member, and demonstrations of first aid methods that could save someone’s life.
Electric bikes from Lenny’s E-Moto will also be on hand as well as Ephemeral Tattoos, who offer real tattoos without a life-long commitment.
Additionally, there will be refreshments so that when hunger strikes, there will be no need to leave the fun.
The raffle will have amazing prizes and tickets will be on sale from 14th September at the shopping centre in Fontvieille, as well as on site the day of the event.
Fondation Flavien has been around since 2014 and was created after the untimely passing of eight-year-old Flavien, a local boy who suffered from brain cancer. In its history, it has collected €743,000 for paediatric cancer research and treatments.