EU pushes for full suspension of visa facilitation with Russia

The European Commission wants to suspend the EU’s Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia, making access to the EU harder and more expensive for Russian citizens.

The EU’s politically independent executive arm announced on Tuesday 6th September that it is proposing a full suspension of the visa agreement for as long as Russia continues its war on Ukraine.

“The EU’s visa policy is a mark of trust – a trust that Russia has completely undermined with its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine,” Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said. “As long as Russia’s military aggression towards an EU-candidate country lasts, Russian citizens cannot enjoy travel facilitations to Europe. Once again, the EU is showing its unwavering unity in its response to Russia’s military aggression.”

It means that Russian citizens will no longer be given privileged access to the EU and face a lengthier, more expensive and more difficult visa application process.

According to the European Commission, Member States will have wide discretion in processing short-stay visa applications from Russian citizens, and will be able to ensure greater scrutiny in respect of Russian nationals travelling to the EU.

The EU will remain open to certain categories of Russian visa applicants travelling for essential purposes, including notably family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

It is now up to the Council to examine and adopt the proposal to suspend the Visa Facilitation Agreement. Once adopted, the suspension will enter into force on the second day following its publication in the EU Official Journal.. Russia will be notified of the decision on suspension no later than 48 hours before its entry into force.


Image source: Pixabay






Dan Luger: “I think the future of rugby in Monaco is bright”

England Rugby World Cup winner Dan Luger in Monaco

Former England international rugby player Dan Luger speaks to Monaco Life about the Principality’s medical scene for athletes, and the “untapped” but significant rugby community.

Dan Luger led a glistening rugby career, representing England and the British and Irish Lions on numerous occasions. During that time, he was part of England’s triumphant 2003 World Cup winning squad, and finished his international career with an exceptional record of 24 tries in 38 appearances. Now residing in the Principality having finished his playing career down the coast in Nice, he is grateful for Monaco’s innovative medical industry for a life-extending operation, as well as their advanced post-professional treatments.

Monaco Life: Dan, can you explain the surgery that you underwent in Monaco?

Dan Luger: One of the things that I think Monaco has done very well over the last few years is striving to be the best in everything. I think that’s what Monaco should be. I see it as the Formula 1 of everything, and why not? There’s no reason for it not to be. There is the intelligence, the people and the money for it to be like that. I was born with a condition that meant that I’d need to have my heart valve replaced at some point. I was going to have the operation two or three years ago and I was going to have it in Monaco and it was going to be a replacement of a valve.

However, as the world has moved forward, and Monaco has kept pace with that, they have a very good young surgeon, Wautot Fabrice, who does a new operation where they repair it. What that meant for me was that instead of having to take medication for the rest of my life and having to have my valve replaced every 10 years, I can go back to a completely normal life and normal sport, and I’ll live longer. That to me is a complete game changer and I’m very thankful that Monaco has a CCM, a specialist centre for cardiology and they’re very progressive and world-leading. For me it’s been a game-changer in terms of what it means for my life. There aren’t many doctors doing it. It’s largely the younger, more progressive doctors who want to try the new techniques.

Unfortunately, you were dogged by injuries throughout your career, how do you rate post-professional treatment in Monaco?

For me it’s been fantastic. If anything, when you stop playing, your body worsens in a way because all of the old injuries come back, as well as things that maybe weren’t a problem at the time. A bit of arthritis starts to kick in, the joints start to get sore. So, you need to keep training, you need to keep moving. I’ve had my issues, and I had another operation nearly two years ago where I had a laminectomy and they took some bone out of the back. Once again, it was a similar kind of path. I went and spoke to doctors everywhere and they wanted to fuse my spine, which is great, but it’s a much more serious operation and normally that creates issues later on. Here, Doctor Taylor, didn’t want to fuse it, he wanted to take some bone out, take some tissue out and put a cist in there and just release it so it stays as natural as possible. It might take longer to recover, but longer term, it’s a better operation. So, I’ve had two experiences of surgery, but they have both been very beneficial for me; two good experiences of surgeries in Monaco, where they thought differently and did something differently to other places in Europe, and the world.

In general in Monaco, it’s like a village in size, but on the flip side it’s a city in terms of the facilities it has. There are some great physios here, you have great gyms like Club 39, where some of the top athletes in the world like Novak Djokovic train. In terms of sport and fitness, Monaco is progressive at every level – from the fitness to the sports level, to the athletes that live here, the physios, healthcare then obviously the top level with operations. It’s great to see. I’m not sure if it’s a conscious decision from the Principality, or whether it’s happened organically because of the athletes that are here and that’s attracted the right people.

You enjoyed an impressive, trophy-laden career. What are the biggest highlights?

Obviously for me, the World Cup win in 2003 was something amazing. I played for the British Lions, even though I missed out on the test match because of another injury, which was once again over and above what I ever expected. For me though, the biggest thing was always playing for England, and especially playing for England at Twickenham. My first ever game at Twickenham was one of my biggest highlights. If you had said to me, ‘You can play one game in your whole life, and that will be for England at Twickenham,’ I’d be happy. I got to play many times after that as well.

My first game was against South Africa in 1998. They were world champions at the time, and we actually beat them that day. If they had won, they would have broken the world record with 19 wins in a row, and we stopped them. I was instrumental in that game: it was my first cap and I picked up a try, and prevented a try right at the end. That was one of my highlights. You feel so blessed to play. In my first Six Nations game against Scotland a few months later, I just remember a scrum happening and I was looking around the stadium like ‘wow, I’m actually here playing for England; it’s a bit surreal really.’ I was very fortunate to be part of a great team of players.

Everyone goes on about 2003, but that squad of players probably got together in 1997; I got my first cap in ‘98. From then until 2003 it was basically the same group of players. For us, that whole journey was a special few years, even if there was a lot of heartache over the years with failed attempts to win the grand slam. In 1999 we lost against Wales, 2000 against Scotland, 2001 against Ireland. We eventually won that in 2003, which for me was a massive, massive highlight. It was a journey, a five-year journey. It wasn’t something that was built overnight. It’s something that will live with you forever. I was so lucky to play in a team that won a World Cup, just playing for England, representing your country, I don’t think there’s anything better. Whatever happens in my life now, no one can ever take away from me the fact that I represented my country in sport. I feel very lucky.

AS Monaco Rugby have just been promoted to the Fédérale 2, do you see the potential for a blossoming rugby scene in the Principality?

Nice used to be a big rugby town, but that’s fallen away a bit. A lot of people in Monaco are rugby followers. I think there is a massive, untapped rugby community, especially amongst the Anglo Saxons. The Monaco rugby club has done amazing things. I’ve been involved with them in a very minor way for maybe eight years. They’ve built the club organically; they haven’t had big sponsors, they haven’t had a stadium, but somehow they’ve managed to build it. Now they’ve finally got to the stage where they’re going up every year, they’ve got their own stadium in Beausoleil. The pitch is amazing, the stands are amazing, there is big change coming up now.

Of course, they’re now in Fédérale 2, which is proper rugby. They’re going to have their own clubhouse, which they haven’t had until now. Having a clubhouse can make it social and more and more people will start to come, so I think the future of rugby in Monaco is bright.



Photo of Dan Luger by Monaco Life





Real estate is booming in French Riviera, new builds can’t meet demand

Housing prices in Nice have continued to rise this year, with demand outstripping supply and the return of international purchasers keeping the market red hot.

People have been drawn to the Côte d’Azur since it first became a fashionable wintering spot for the elite in the late 1800s. The natural beauty coupled with mild winter temperatures made it a favourite watering hole of the rich and famous, bringing glamour and a buzz to the region.

The area has retained this lustre in modern times, with real estate prices reflecting the desirability of the Côte even today.

The housing market in Nice is particularly hot at the moment, with agents finding it hard to find enough properties to fill demand.

“We are facing an extremely dynamic market,” said Leprince Immoblier founder Samuel Benzazon in an interview with Seloger. “Demand is substantial in the sector and the supply of goods available for sale is not enough to meet it. This creates real estate tension that leaves little room for a slowdown in price increases in recent months.”

According to Benzazon, the clientele is a mixture of French as well as Americans and Europeans looking to buy a second home that they can rent out seasonally. But it’s an expensive luxury, with a 47m2, three-room apartment with a terrace in the Wilson neighbourhood recently going for €320,000, and a one-bedroom on the Place Mozart that just went for an eye-watering €590,000.

Houses are going for more, unsurprisingly, with a villa in the Liberation district selling for €1.3 million and one in ritzy Cimiez fetching €2.150 million.

In presenting the figures for the first half of 2022 in the Alpes-Maritimes, the CCI Housing Real Estate Observatory recently revealed that resales increased during the first half of 2022 by 15%, pushing the average price per square metre to €4,710 in the department.

There has been a 13% increase in demand for new builds, however there has also been a severe shortage in the new housing market, pumping prices to €6,341 per square metre. According to the CCI, properties in this category go quickly, and are on the market for less than six months.

The shortage has been blamed on the price of electricity, which has multiplied by 10 since the beginning of the year, as well as a significant rise in raw materials, inflation and an increase in interest rates. Obtaining building permits has also become complicated, say the experts.

As a result, builders are less confident of finishing projects while the general public are less inclined to make purchases and investments.

Even with economic trouble swirling in the distance, the local market is not expected to see a drop in prices, though less homes will be up for sale over the winter.



Photo of Nice by Monaco Life



What’s on: Beaulieu Classic Festival

The Beaulieu Classic Festival is celebrating two decades of musical artistry and entertainment, and this year’s line-up is filled with amazing talent in beautiful settings, with the added promise of it being: “Classical…But not only!”

This year’s musical programme for the 20th Beaulieu Classic Festival is set to be unlike other events of this kind, with free concerts, a gala dinner and candlelight performances.

According to the organisers, “Being a festival among many others would not satisfy our public accustomed to the prestigious concerts of the Operas of Monaco or Nice. We had to be different with an atypical program composed of musicians selected for their artistic qualities and their original personalities.”

It kicks off on 10th September in the Place Marinoni with pianist Steve-Villa Massone playing to the crowds, followed by a parade of local schoolchildren accompanied by musicians on stilts around the village. That evening at 9pm, a free concert on the Petite Afrique Beach will take place with the National Orchestra of Cannes playing works by Mozart and Haydn, followed at 10:15pm by a fireworks display.

On the 11th, Jean-François Zygel, improvisational pianist and composer, will be at the Casino de Beaulieu at 6:30pm giving audiences a chance to hear his off-beat and off-the-cuff style.

A free concert on the Petite Afrique Beach will take place with the National Orchestra of Cannes, photo credit Beaulieu Classic Festival

On Tuesday 13th September is award-winning string quartet Quatuor Van Kuijk, who has graced major concert halls around the globe and will be playing in the intimate setting of the lovely Saint Michael’s Chruch.

Next up on Wednesday the 14th are Les Itinerantes, a three-woman a capella sensation, who will be performing during a candlelit concert at Saint Michael’s Church at 8pm, adding an air of mystery and glamour to the event.

Trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin-Vary and accordionist Félicien Brut happily share the stage for the next concert on the 15th at the Casino de Beaulieu at 8pm. The pair perform a heady mix from musette ball to opera, from jazz to romantic masterpieces, in a something-for-everyone evening.

Friday the 16th is the Gala Dinner at the Royal Riviera Hotel for the 20th anniversary with a Roaring Twenties themed night. The dinner show will feature Gaby the Magnificent in a “jazzy musical comedy” combining theatre, singing, and dancing in one fabulous show. There will also be a semi-gastronomic dinner in keeping with theme from Le Jasmin Restaurant.

The Festival concludes on Saturday 17th September with the piano playing duo of Mathias and Julien Cadez, who use a single piano and play side-by-side to amazing effect. The pair combine music, humour and magic in a can’t miss spectacle reminiscent of the great Charlie Chaplin himself.

For more information and tickets, visit the website at


Photo above of the Beaulieu Casino



Call for participants in ‘Waste is out of fashion’ week

This year’s European Waste Reduction Week is targeting fast fashion and people in the local community are being encouraged to take part in Monaco’s contribution to the important event.

As Monaco continues down the path of sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, waste management moves higher and higher up the list of priorities.

Enter European Waste Reduction Week (SERD), which runs from 19th to 27th November, a Europe-wide initiative that asks people to take charge and implement awareness-raising actions using the sustainable management of resources and waste in all member countries, European and non-European.

The theme this year is ‘Circular and Sustainable Textiles: Waste is Out of Fashion’, and to make the day a success, the Monaco government has put out a call for participants. People are being encouraged to do what inspires them and volunteer to speak or hold events at work, at schools, at members associations or anywhere they think may make an impact.

European Waste Reduction Week will be inviting people to rethink fast-fashion choices, many items of which end up in landfills or incinerators and are environmentally harmful. The idea is to discover and implement more sustainable solutions and to give textiles a second life.

All proposals are welcome, even if they do not correspond with the theme, so long as they are oriented around the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

To learn more, join the Department of the Environment for an information meeting on 13th September, the details of which can be received by writing to




Photo of a Cambodian factory by Francois Le Nguyen on Unsplash





Support for the EU on the rise

Almost half of the European population is happy with the EU, according to a new report, the highest level of positivity in over a decade. 

The European Union (EU) is still working as a united front, despite the trials and tribulations currently being experienced.

In the 2022 Standard Eurobarometer survey, which is a collection of cross-nation public opinion polls conducted regularly by the EU since 1974, 49% of citizens have expressed trust in the bloc, with 65% being optimistic about the future, a three-point increase on the last poll taken in January and February.

The positivity image of the EU now stands at 47%, the highest level reached since autumn 2009, while 36% of respondents had a neutral view and 16% were negative. 

With regard to the war in Ukraine, the people said they strongly backed the bloc’s response, with 92% approving of the level of humanitarian support and 90% liking the way countries were welcoming Ukrainian refugees. Sanctions on Russia and targeted Russians got a 78% approval rate, and 68% think the EU should be financing and supplying military equipment to Ukraine.

The majority of the EU populace, 87%, think the EU needs to invest more heavily in renewable energy, and 86% to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Independence from energy producers outside the EU also ranks high at 85%.

The economic situation has people rattled and only 40% have positive perceptions. The majority of respondents think the situation will get worse in the next year, but 72% of people are nonetheless confident in the euro, despite 54% being concerned about inflation and rising prices.

Finally, the people interviewed are happy with the way Covid is being handled and 63% trust the EU to take the right decisions for the future on this front.
Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash