EU’s youngest member makes historic changes

Croatia rang in the new year by joining both the border-free Schengen zone and the common euro currency, fulfilling a longstanding goal of close integration with Europe.

At the Bregana border crossing with neighbouring Slovenia, police took down signs at midnight and a barrier was lifted up for the last time, before a placard reading “free passage” was installed, symbolising the end of border checks.

“If there are historical moments, special moments which should provide us with great honour and when we witness the achievement of strategic goals of a state – this is such a day,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at a ceremony at the border later on Sunday.

He was joined by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who hailed it as “a day to celebrate”.

“Today Croatia joins the Schengen Area and the eurozone, two immense achievements for the youngest member state of the European Union and both reached on the very same day. So indeed, this is a day for the history books.”

Plenkovic and von der Leyen later toured the capital Zagreb where they bought coffee in a cafe using euros, which replaced Croatia’s kuna currency. After a server brought their coffees to an outdoor table, Plenkovic paid with a handful of euro notes, while von der Leyen, seated next to him, applauded.

Croatia entered the EU in 2013. It becomes the 27th country to join the Schengen area, and the 20th to adopt the euro currency.

Finance Minister Marko Primorac touted the advantages of using the euro to lawmakers last month, saying it would strengthen the economy, improve the investment climate and make Croatia more resistant to external shocks.

Monaco Life with Reuters. Photo credit: Matthias Mullie on Unsplash

Doctors continue strike action, protest called for Thursday

Private sector general practitioners in France, known as médecine libérale, have been called upon to continue their strike action this week, with a national day of protest set for Thursday.

The strike began on 26th December 2022 as the health professionals fight to have the price of a consultation increased across the country.

The collective ‘Doctors for tomorrow’ (Médecins pour demain) is planning a national protest for Thursday in Paris, between the Pantheon and the Ministry of Health, where they are expecting to be met by Health Minister François Braun.

“We contacted the minister before Christmas, he replied that he would receive us on 5th January without making any other proposal,” the founder of the collective, Christelle Audigier, told AFP.

She said a meeting request with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne remained unanswered.

The health insurance industry estimates that there was a drop in GP activity of between 5 and 10% last week, while the collective puts the figure at around 70%.

The collective is demanding an increase in the price of a consultation to €50 in an effort to boost the number of younger professionals in rural areas.

‘Doctors for tomorrow’ has presented its own proposals to fight against “medical deserts”, advocating “ephemeral practices” in under-resourced areas and incentives to attract young practitioners.

The first week of 2023 is also seeing strike action by private medical biologists. Since Monday 2nd January, they have been called on to stop reporting Covid test results.

Photo source: Unsplash

France pushes for EU-wide controls on Chinese travellers

France has urged other European Union countries to test Chinese travellers for Covid-19 after the government announced it will do so amid a fresh outbreak sweeping the country.

France on Sunday became the third EU country after Italy and Spain to impose restrictions on travellers from China. They must now provide a negative Covid-19 test result less than 48 hours before departure and will be randomly tested upon arrival.

“France will push for this methodology to be applied across the EU,” Health Minister François Braun said as he and Transport Minister Clement Beaune checked on the new procedures at Paris’ Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport.

Asked about the fact that a Chinese traveller with Covid-19 could still land in another EU country and then travel unchecked to France, Beaune responded: “This is why we must coordinate (across the EU), to be more efficient.”

Beijing abruptly reversed strict Covid measures on 7th December, including lockdowns and relentless testing as well as keeping its borders all but shut for three years. It prompted a surge of eager travellers booking flights out of the country, while infections have since spread rapidly.

More and more countries are tightening measures for travellers from the world’s second-biggest economy, including Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

More EU talks will take place this week.


Photo source: Unsplash


Annual address: Prince Albert shares his thoughts on 2023

With solemnity and sincerity, Prince Albert has used his New Year address to stress the importance of “collective power” in the face of the many challenges that lie ahead for humanity.

The annual New Year address of Monaco’s Prince Albert II was released by the Palais Princier on the eve of 2023. The four-minute-long video was shot within the confines of the sovereign home and featured a dignified but pensive Prince as he spoke on a range of topics close to his heart. 

“2022 has been a year of tribulations for all those affected by war, oppression, violence and intolerance in our troubled world,” Prince Albert began. “The Princess and I offer them all our support, compassion and affection. Our thoughts are also with those afflicted by illness, or who have seen loved ones suffering, reminding us not just how fragile life is, but also how resilient we can be when faced with adversity. That is why, in 2023, we will continue to devote all our energy to the cause of peace, mutual acceptance and solidarity.”

Prince Albert touched briefly on what he described as a “protracted Covid-19 health crisis”, adding that the end of the pandemic “is now in sight”, before moving on to reaffirm his position as a champion of biodiversity conservation and protection on land and at sea, and called for “a world that is more respectful of nature”.

“For the sake of our children, we must imagine and fashion a reconciled, balanced world,” said the Prince. “It is my strong belief that each of us can play our part. We are all concerned, we are all capable [and] we each hold a piece of that collective power, which alone can change the world for the better.”

2023 is set to be an important year for the Principality, with several notable occasions and anniversaries due to take place over the next 12 months. 

First up are the national and municipal elections. Prince Albert spoke reverently on the ability of Monaco’s state leaders to promote action in the forward-thinking state, but was also keen to address the Principality’s responsibilities on the world stage. 

“2023 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Principality joining the United Nations and I want to reaffirm my strong belief in multilateralism and respect for our international commitments,” he explained. “The challenges we face today are global and require global responses: the climate and energy crises, the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption, the fight against famine, the struggle for gender equality… In this respect, our resolute commitment as part of the Council of Europe and the ongoing talks on closer relations with the European Union are crucial priorities for the future of our country.”

One particularly meaningful occasion in the coming year will be the centenary commemorations of the birth of Prince Albert’s father, Prince Rainier III (1923-2005). 

Referring proudly to his father and predecessor to the Monegasque throne as the “Builder Prince”, Prince Albert said, “He made Monaco a modern and dynamic constitutional monarchy, outward-looking and active on the international stage.”

“I know that I can count on the Monegasque community, our residents and our partners, to continue to reinvent our economic and social model,” he continued. “Tomorrow is not a vain word, but the future prospect of our common desire.”

The speech concludes with a heart-warming frame of Prince Albert and his family of Princess Charlene and their twin children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, in front of their beautifully gold and green themed Christmas tree.

“My family and I offer you our warmest wishes for 2023,” proffered the Prince, before the four gave a tri-lingual address in unison: “Bonne année, Happy New Year, Bon Anu Noeuv!”

Photo source: Palais Princier de Monaco/Facebook

AS Monaco begin 2023 with a victory

AS Monaco began 2023 just like they ended 2022: with a win. It may not have been emphatic, but Philippe Clement’s side scraped past Brest (1-0) on New Year’s Day to move up to fourth provisionally in Ligue 1.

Fans who were permitted free entry to the Louis II clash packed the stands to welcome football back to the Principality. It was the first time that Les Monégasques had played at home since the World Cup break.

Monaco should have steered themselves into the lead in the first-half, but a mix of good goalkeeping and poor finishing let Brest off the hook. Eliesee Ben Seghir, making his first Ligue 1 start, had the best chance. The French youngster produced a stunning piece of skill to work the opening before blasting just over from eight yards out.

However, Monaco did hit the front early in the second-half. Aleksandr Golovin cut back on his right-foot just outside the box and rifled a perfectly-hit shot into the top corner. From there, Clement’s side dropped off and decreased their intensity. That was a mistake.

Brest, who hadn’t mustered any resistance until that point, began to push and worked multiple chances. Alexander Nübel had to deny Jérémy Le Douaron on multiple occasions, whilst Steve Mounié had a brilliant chance late on, but he could only strike the bar with his header.

Ultimately, Monaco held on, and the three points moves the team up to fourth. Marseille has a game in hand, but the Principality side are currently level on points with their third-placed Mediterranean rivals.

Clement’s comments

“It is important to have more and more people in the stadium,” began Clement, who believed that the initiative to allow fans free entry helped his side. “Away from home there is always a lot of people and that gives more strength to the players to get the result. It is very important for them, and it is something that could prove decisive in the result of a match. I hope in the coming months there will be more people here in the Louis II to push us.”

Man of the match – Aleksandr Golovin

Golovin is certainly experiencing his best season in red and white. His goal against Brest was his fourth of the season in Ligue 1. It was another crucial one. He is becoming a player that steps up in big moments for Monaco, and having such players within the squad will be essential for the Champions League push.

Monaco next compete in the Coupe de France. They will face Ligue 2 side Rodez at home on Saturday.



Photo by AS Monaco


ASM transfer round-up: Badiashile set for departure, Nübel to follow?

The transfer window burst open on 1st January and the rumour mill is already working overtime with some of AS Monaco’s key elements linked to departures.

Monaco’s transfer window looks set for a hectic start, although in truth, rumours about impending departures have been swirling since way before the festive period.

Alexander Nübel – linked by Bild to Bayern Munich

Since Manuel Neuer’s season-ending leg-break earlier this year, Nübel has inevitably been repeatedly linked with an early return to the Allianz Arena. However, the German goalkeeper’s loan only runs out this summer and the player himself has continuously expressed a desire to remain at Monaco until the end of the current campaign. In an interview with Monaco Life, Nübel even evoked the idea of a prolonged stay at the Principality club.

The latest development is that Bayern Munich continue to push for his return and the club’s sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic, has contacted Paul Mitchell, according to Bild. Monaco, however, are under no contractual obligation to release the player and Nübel is keen on staying. At this moment in time, a return to Bavaria therefore seems unlikely for Nübel.

Benoît Badiashile – linked by The Athletic to Chelsea 

One transfer that looks a lot more likely to be completed is Badiashile’s move to Premier League side Chelsea. The France international attracted attention from the English top flight last summer, but ultimately remained at the Stade Louis II. However, The Athletic reports that negotiations over Badiashile’s transfer have come to a successful conclusion. The fee is thought to be a little short of €40m. The player is set to travel to London on Monday for a medical before the officialisation of the deal.

Maghnes Akliouche – linked by L’Équipe to Lille & Atalanta

Lille were interested in Monaco’s young playmaker in the summer and reportedly made a €13m move. Undeterred by that rejection, L’Équipe report that Lille are willing to return for the player again in January, whilst Serie A side Atalanta have also reportedly joined the race. However, any deal could prove difficult with Monaco keen on not only keeping the player, but also extending his contract.

Malang Sarr – linked by Agent to AC Milan & Torino

Sarr has found gametime difficult to come by since his arrival on loan from Chelsea in the summer. As a result, the player’s agent, Federico Pastorello, evoked a potential early departure in a recent interview with TMW. The football agent has said that Torino were interested in Sarr last summer, whilst AC Milan have also been “tracking him for a long time”.

Those comments came before reports linking Badiashile with an imminent departure surfaced. Sarr started in Monaco’s 3-2 win against Auxerre on Wednesday 28th December, and should Badiashile leave, he will likely see his gametime greatly increased. The outcome of Chelsea’s negotiations with Monaco for Badiashile could therefore play a large part in Sarr’s Monaco future.


Photo by Monaco Life