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POLITICS

Macron warns France of ‘a new era of sacrifices and the end of abundance’

French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Wednesday that France faced "sacrifices" in a new era marked by the climate crisis and instability caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine that signalled "the end of abundance".

Macron warns France of 'a new era of sacrifices and the end of abundance'
Emmanuel Macron, second from left, addresses his ministers at the first cabinet meeting since the summer break. Photo by MOHAMMED BADRA / POOL / AFP

After a summer marked by drought, massive wildfires and continuing loss of life in Ukraine, the 44-year-old leader delivered a stark speech at the start of the first cabinet meeting after the country’s traditional August holiday break.

“I believe that we are in the process of living through a tipping point or great upheaval.

“Firstly because we are living through… the end of what could seem like the end of abundance.”

Referring to the war in Ukraine, he added: “Our system based on freedom in which we have become used to living, sometimes when we need to defend it, it can entail making sacrifices.”

The speech appeared designed to prepare the country for what promises to be a difficult winter ahead, with energy prices rising sharply and many families struggling with inflation.

It also echoed remarks he made last week during a World War II commemoration event, when he described the tough winter ahead as “the price we pay for freedom”.

The severe drought over the summer, leading to water restrictions across most of the country, has also caused many French people to express fears about the increasingly obvious impact of climate change.

“This overview that I’m givingĀ  — the end of abundance, the end of insouciance, the end of assumptions — it’s ultimately a tipping point that we are going through that can lead our citizens to feel a lot of anxiety,” Macron continued.

“Faced with this, we have duties, the first of which is to speak frankly and very clearly without doom-mongering,” he said.

Macron was re-elected in April to a second term but lost his parliamentary majority in elections in June, meaning Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne heads a minority government that depends on opposition parties to pass legislation.

French inflation was clocked at 6.1 percent last month, one of the lowest rates in Europe thanks to government price caps on electricity and gas, as well as tax cuts on petrol and diesel.

But trade unions are pushing for major wage increases and have called for a day of strikes and rallies on September 29th.

The head of the hard-left CGT union, Philippe Martinez, told BFM television that the president’s speech was “inappropriate”, adding that the poorest were already paying the price of the war and that further sacrifices could not be expected.

“He’ll ask for them (sacrifices) and we will oppose them,” Martinez said.

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POLITICS

‘A good thing’ for footballers to express values, says France’s PM

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne - speaking in Berlin - said that footballers should be allowed to express their values, amid controversy over FIFA's stance against the 'OneLove' armband on the pitch.

'A good thing' for footballers to express values, says France's PM

“There are rules for what happens on the field but I think it’s a good thing for players to be able to express themselves on the values that we obviously completely share, while respecting the rules of the tournament,” said Borne at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

Germany’s players made headlines before Wednesday’s shock loss to Japan when the team lined up for their pre-match photo with their hands covering their mouths after FIFA’s threat to sanction players wearing the rainbow-themed armband.

Seven European nations, including Germany, had previously planned for their captains to wear the armband, but backed down over FIFA’s warning.

Following Germany’s action, Wales and the Netherlands have since come out to say they would not mirror the protest.

Borne’s visit to Germany was her first since she was named to her post in May.

Following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two leaders signed an agreement for “mutual support” on “guaranteeing their energy supplies”.

Concrete measures outlined in the deal include France sending Germany gas supplies as Berlin seeks to make up for gaping holes in deliveries from Russia.

Germany meanwhile would help France “secure its electricity supplies over winter”, according to the document.

France had since 1981 been a net exporter of electricity to its neighbours because of its nuclear plants. But maintenance issues dogging the plants have left France at risk of power cuts in case of an extremely cold winter.

The two leaders also affirmed their countries’ commitment to backing Ukraine “to the end of” its conflict with invaders Russia.

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