Pension reform strikes: More protests in February

train nice ter

Another wave of pension reform strikes is in the works as French unions fight back against plans to shake up the system and increase the retirement age to 64.  

The 31st January strikes over proposed pension reforms to the French system have now come and gone, with union officials saying, “It was a success. The challenge is strong.”  

But they were clearly not successful enough as another round of actions are being called for on 7th February.  

SNCF’s main unions are supporting the planned strikes, as are unions for the mining, energy, chemical and port industries. Train strikes in particular could cause significant trouble for commuters. 

The possibility of more strikes on 11th February is also being bandied, but the train unions are considering ‘calls to action’ rather than strikes, as this date coincides with the start of school holidays in some places. They fear the disruption would cause the public to turn against them, weakening their case.  

International opinion on pension reform strikes

The international sentiment is general confusion over the hubbub, with journalists expressing what many are thinking privately.   

“The British find it difficult to understand that the French, with their guaranteed pensions, are protesting so much for a decline from 62 to 64 years,” wrote one columnist for UK newspaper The Guardian.  

In Germany, the daily Die Zeit described the standoff between the government and the unions as having “an air of déjà vu”, while in Italy, Anais Ginori, a journalist for Reppublica, wrote, “With us, the starting age is 67 so… Already when I explained during the French presidential campaign that certain candidates proposed a return to retirement at 60, it seemed lunar.”  

Local impact of recent pension reform strikes 

The last strikes saw SNCF train services very disrupted, with only one in five TER trains running. Nice Airport had to cancel 18 flights out of the usual 90 scheduled, and the Lignes d’Azur was “totally at a standstill”, according to Gaël Nofri, the deputy mayor of Nice and chairman of the network.   

Only 21% of the teachers from the Academy of Nice took to the picket lines, down significantly from the 19th January strike where over 32% were present, and the local ski lift strike didn’t go quite as well as hoped for either. According to Frédéric Gil, the director of the Mercantour stations, Isola 2000 did not have any strikers and Auron saw only four people picketing out of roughly 150 “without consequence on service”.   

Locally, police estimate that 7,000 demonstrators hit the streets, whilst Force Ouvrière, one of France’s major union confederations along with CGT and CFDT, put numbers at 25,000 to 30,000. Nationally, the Ministry of the Interior set the total number of strikers at 1.272 million. The unions claim 2.8 million. As ever in these events, the truth, no doubt, lies somewhere in-between.  

A poll put out by Elabe on Wednesday showed that the public back the strikes, with two out of three approving. 



France to raise retirement age to 64


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Explained: Do I qualify for a taxe foncière exemption in 2023?

Changes have been made to the rules surrounding the taxe foncière, specifically to those who can claim exemption in the short and long-term. Here’s what you need to know.  

The taxe foncière is a local property ownership tax and varies in cost from municipality to municipality across the France. Traditionally, it has been paid by the person who owns a property on 1st January of that tax year, but the Finance Law of 2023 has established several of exemptions as well as reductions in payment for those on a low income.  

Full exemption of the taxe foncière 

As of 2023, a number of groups are exempt from paying the property ownership tax. Holders of the ASI, the supplementary disability allowance or allocation supplémentaire d’invalidité, as well as those benefitting from the ASPA, the allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées, are no longer required to pay the taxe foncière. No means testing is required to qualify for the exemption.  

Those over the age of 75 can obtain an exemption subject to means testing as well as on their second or holiday home too if they have one. Holders of the AAH, the allowance for disabled adults or allocation aux adultes handicapés, are given the same opportunity subject to their income.  

The updates to the tax legislation have also brought an end to some marital rights when claiming exemption. For example, the person claiming ASPA must be the property owner or joint-property owner if the couple are to be relieved of the tax. The same applies to the means testing measures. 

In all cases, these exemptions should be automatically taken into account following the completion of a 2023 tax return.  

In a guide published at the end of January by the Service Public, the means testing ceiling has been set at €11,885 for the first part of the family quotient or quotient familial, plus €3,174 for each additional half-part.  

Reduced payments according to income 

Those declaring an income below €27,947 for the first part of the family quotient plus €6,530 for the first half-part and a further €5,140 for any other half-parts can obtain a reduction if they apply via the N°2041-DPTF-SD form.

Exemptions for vacant property 

Owners could be in line for an exemption if a property usually intended for rental is involuntarily vacant on the part of the owner. This is also the cause for commercial or industrial property. In all cases, the vacancy must last at least three months.  

Longer term exemptions for new builds  

New builds or property bought off-plan is, in principle, exempt from property tax for two years following the completion of work. New builds purchased as a main residence are also exempt for 15 years if they meet certain conditions: the property must have been built with a loan from the HLM scheme or have been 50% financed by state-subsidised loans unless the financing in question was a zero-interest loan.  

All owners should also remember to fill out the new déclaration d’occupation, which came into force on 1st January, by registering the occupation status of their property or properties under the Gérer mes biens immobiliers section of their account on 



Explained: the new tax form all French home owners must fill out


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A night of inspiration and talent at the Academie Rainier III

0302 academie rainier III

A major showcase of the incredible talent nurtured at the Académie Rainier III is to take place this month under the instruction of its respected director, Jade Sapolin, and supported by Karyn Ardisson-Salopek, Monaco’s deputy mayor and chosen delegate to the institution.  

On Thursday 9th February, the Academy’s musicians will perform a ‘Concert des Ensembles’ at the Théàtre des Variétés on 1 Boulevard Albert I in Monaco from 6.30pm. 

It is an opportunity to discover the various musical forms and ensembles of the Académie Rainier III, from chamber music to cellists and a wind orchestra. The night promises a musical experience that is both inspiring and beautiful.   

The concert is free to attend, but reservations must be made in advance. Click here for further information. 


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Donatas Motiejunas shines in Roca Team victory

roca team victory monaco

AS Monaco Basketball breached the 100-point mark for the second consecutive Euroleague game as they eased past Alba Berlin (84-102) on Wednesday to keep pace with the front-runners and land another impressive Roca Team victory.

A dominant second-quarter performance from the Roca Team ultimately decided the game in favour of Sasa Obradovic’s side. The Serbian manager, who was returning to the club for whom he once played and managed, could count on an imperious Donatas Motiejunas on the night (22 points) to ensure another offensive display from his team.

18 of Motiejunas’ points came in the first-half, with the Lithuanian consistently finding the space within the key to exact maximum damage. Elie Okobo (12 points) and Mike James (13 points) shared the creative burden, registering six assists apiece, as Monaco cut through the Alba Berlin defence like a knife through butter.

Their dominance continued into the second half, as their lead was managed and maintained with Alba never coming within striking distance. Finishing on 102 points, the Roca Team breached the 100-point mark for the second time in the Euroleague in under a week after pulling off the feat against Milan last Friday.

The win is crucial, not only to keep up with the Euroleague leaders, who remain just one win in front, but also to give confidence ahead of the arrival of one of those leaders at the Salle Gaston Médécin on Friday. “It is an important victory that allows us to prepare for Real Madrid’s arrival in the best way possible,” said Monaco’s Jordan Loyd.

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Photo by AS Monaco Basket