A new decade begins... what’s new in France in 2020?
Will the 20s roar again, despite Brexit and climate change?
2020 is not only the start of a new year but a new decade – 100 years ago the Twenties were called ‘roaring’ as the Edwardian and war years were left behind, with developments such as jazz, short dresses and the talkies.
How will we look back on our 20s? Will we get on top of the climate and biodiversity crises? What new technologies will arrive? Will presidents Trump and Macron be reelected?
And this year, how will Brexit turn out as the UK finally enters - probably - its transition period? Will the EU bounce back? Will we see more protests like 2019’s pension strikes and gilets jaunes? Here, for now, are some things we can expect in the year ahead.
- People will be able to cancel and change a top-up mutuelle whenever they like, as opposed to only during an annual window, as now. This will apply only after you have held a policy for one year and will come in at the latest from December.
- Residents who were in the French health system as an ayant droit (dependant) of a working spouse or a French pensioner should by now have been registered as full individual members of the French system under Puma by virtue of residency. The only group liable to continue now as ayants droit would be spouses/partners of European citizens living in France with a European S1 form (the right to this is expected to continue for Britons living in France before the end of the Brexit transition period). Despite this, spouses of workers – as long as workers earn over a certain low minimum – should still have no Puma cotisation to pay.
- Virtual prescriptions are planned to begin this year, although some commentators are sceptical about how quickly doctors will take them up. Doctors will write the prescription on their computer and print, generating a smartcode that pharmacists may then scan to register the prescription at their end. The details will also be logged in the person’s Dossier Médical Partagé online (see here) if they have one.
- A range of glasses and dental prostheses, such as certain crowns and bridges, will be free for patients. Top-up insurance providers will be obliged to pay the difference between state reimbursement and the actual cost of the items. This reste à charge zéro plan will not cover all products but there will be a wide range. The amount people pay towards a hearing aid will be capped at €400 this year, unless you choose a model outside the guarantee.
- Medical cannabis will be made available to some patients deemed to be in a “treatment impasse” in a two-year trial of the drug.
- Pharmaceutical labs are now legally obliged, on pain of heavy fines, to keep sufficient stocks of medicines to allow for uninterrupted deliveries for two to four months in the event of new supplies running out.
- Homeopathic remedies will be reimbursed at 15%, not 30% as now.
- Parents will no longer have to supply a medical certificate to allow their child to participate in sports. It is thought usual childhood check-ups will be enough to identify any issues. Instead, parents will be asked to submit a questionnaire attesting to the child’s suitability to take part. Medical examinations will be required only if answers to this flag up an issue.
HOME AND DAILY LIFE
- Stamps will increase to 97 centimes for a timbre vert and to €1.16 for a red “priority” stamp. International stamps, which cost the same in the EU and elsewhere as of last year, will rise from €1.30 to €1.40.
- If you are owed pension alimentaire money (eg. from a divorced or separated spouse for child support, or in some cases from a parent or child if you are in need and they have means to help) the state is putting in place measures to enforce payment. From June, you will be able to ask the Caf to recover the money on your behalf.
- March 31 sees the launch in France of the new Disney+ streaming service. Users will be able to see a range of content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and the National Geographic Channel, including the new live action version of Lady and the Tramp or the Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian. It will work via a mobile phone app with a subscription or via a partnership with Canal+ for those who subscribe to the channel.
- Britons should be free to swap British driving licences for French ones again, if they wish to, from April 1. The CERT de Nantes, which processes these swaps, said a new online service for this should be in place.
- When two neighbours have a legal dispute, they will now be obliged to make use of an alternative resolution method, such as a conciliateur de justice, before resorting to court.
- People considering a change of marriage regime via a notaire as part of inheritance planning face an extra tax this year. There will be stamp duty at 0.715% of the value if including real estate in a communauté (joint ownership) marriage regime.
- Tax at source will apply from January to money paid to home employees such as nannies and gardeners. Employers will manage this via the Cesu and Pajemploi services.
- Wines from the historic Ile-de-France area (including the Oise and much of the Aisne) may go on sale this year after a 20-year battle for recognition. Winegrowers hope for a final decision by the INAO quality labels body between January and March, allowing them to sell wines labelled with a provisional IGP (European quality label) for the area – a vin de pays. They hope the EU will confirm the labelling fully six months later. At present, they can only be sold as table wine without a geographical label. In future, they may also seek an AOC for certain limited parts of the area. Ile-de-France wines are characterised by a touch of acidic and mineral notes, fruity flavours and subtle smoky notes in the reds.
- Titanium dioxide, an additive used as a whitener and thickener in numerous products, such as confectionery, chewing gum, ready-meals, sweets, sauces, toothpaste, cosmetics and medicines will be banned in foods in France from January 1 “as a precaution”. France considers there is not enough data available on its safety.
- The price of vinpops such as rosé mixed with grapefruit juice, is expected to rise due to a new tax aimed at discouraging young people from drinking them.
- As of September, people making purchases of less than €10 in shops will no longer be given a receipt unless they request one.
- Various disposable items will no longer be made from plastic, including cups and plates, water bottles in school canteens, cotton buds, coffee stirrers and twizzle sticks.
- A tax reduction on diesel for vehicles and machines used off-road on building sites is to be lowered over three years starting this year, as an ecological measure and also to finance an income tax reduction. At the end of last year, this led to protests, with vehicles blocking fuel depots causing shortages at service stations.
POLITICS AND BREXIT
- The UK is expected to leave the EU at midnight French time on Friday January 31. A transition period will start during which it is intended that nothing should change for Britons in France. However, Britons should start to apply for the residency cards that they will require to secure continuing rights under the deal.
- Apart from Brexit, a key issue for the EU this year will be finalising its new long-term budget plan for 2021-27. This includes working out how to cover the expected loss of the UK contribution but also no longer having to compensate for the UK rebate Margaret Thatcher negotiated in the 1980s, which meant there was around €4billion a year to make up in the budget.
- The Conversatives will be under pressure to follow through with ending the 15-year rule for expatriate voting, promised in their manifestos for 2015, 2017 and 2019.
- Mairie elections in France will be held on March 15 and 22. Britons will not be able to stand or vote, assuming Brexit has taken place. A new Paris mayor will also be elected on the same dates. Experts have predicted that the elections will be characterised by alliances between parties, with Greens likely to play a key role.
- Senatorial elections will be held in September. Senators are elected by a college of MPs and councillors.
- Elections will be held for conseillers consulaires. They represent the communities of French people abroad in relation to consulates and embassies around the world and participate in elections for senators for French expatriates.
- US Presidential elections will be held on Tuesday November 3. Americans in France will be able to vote. They may receive blank ballots by email, download or fax.
See more: January Brexit: what Britons in France need to know and visit our dedicated Brexit section regularly to stay updated
- A feasability study will conclude this spring into a direct London to Bordeaux high-speed rail link (see here)
- Regions are now free to launch invitations to tender to rail companies that wish to run local train services instead of SNCF. The PACA southern region will be among the first to launch this – this year – for some services along the coastal areas. New services are not expected to start before 2022 for the Marseille to Nice stretch, or 2024 for other lines in the Nice area. The Grand Est and Hauts-de-France regions are likely to be the next to run such an exercise, which will be obligatory from the end of 2023. TGVs will be opened to competition from December. The legal status of SNCF is being modified this year, from an Epic (a form of state agency that the state can fund without limits) to a company.
- Lyon is to become the fifth city to be connected directly to Paris via the low-cost TGV service Ouigo. The line is to open in June, with three return journeys a day between the Gare de Lyon in Paris and Lyon Part-Dieu.
- After a year when income from speed cameras was down, partly due to vandalism of cameras, the state is reported to be aiming to send out a record 13 million fine letters in 2020. Some 4,400 cameras will be installed, including ones that can pick up offences such as driving through red lights.
- An “ECO-TAX” on plane tickets comes in, aimed at funding the green transport sector. Levied on flights taking from France, apart from Corsica and the DOM-TOMs, it will be €1.50 on internal or intra-EU flights, or €3 outside the EU, rising to €9 or €18 in business class. A new law allowing polluting petrol or diesel cars to be converted into electric ones (called un rétrofit) is being checked by the EU. It is expected to get a final go-ahead from French MPs around February and the first conversions may be available later in the year.
- There are some adjustments to the malus tax on sales of new cars considered to be polluting. For the most polluting vehicles (those with emissions of more than 184g CO2/km), the payment is set to increase to a maximum of €20,000, from €12,500.
- Trials have been taking place in the use of SeaBubble water taxis on the Seine in Paris – with a view to them being used commercially from this year. The electric craft hover above the water on fins and are said to give a very smooth ride. It is planned that people could book one with an app. The firm that makes them said the trials were successful and it is meeting with the mairie this month.
MONEY AND TAXES
- Rules for the ACRE system, which provides a (gradually smaller) reduction in social charges in the first three years for people launching a small business have been made tougher. Opened to all new businesses in 2019, it will again only be for certain categories, such as people under 26 and registered jobseekers. People will have to apply again, whereas in 2019 it was accorded automatically. It will also now last for only one year for new businesses and the reduction will be reduced to 50% from 75%. Those already benefiting before 2020 will also see the reduction amounts reduced from 50% to 25% in the second year, and 25% to 10% in the third.
- Thresholds at which businesses must charge TVA/VAT are rising, to €85,800 for sales and €34,400 for services (or, for the higher thresholds where VAT becomes chargeable immediately, €94,300 and €36,500).
- Self-employed people will belong this year to the régime général for social security. Their contact point for health becomes their local Cpam instead of a separate body for the self-employed – apart from some people in the professions libérales who have a choice this year to stay with Cipav or move to the régime général.
- More strikes are likely to be on the way in 2020 as MPs prepare to debate the government’s planned pension reforms, which aim at simplification and removing France’s many “special regimes” in favour of a unified system.
- Simplifications are on the way for tax and social charge declarations of the self-employed, who currently have three separate ones (professional profits – résultats, the main income tax declaration, and a DSI revenue declaration to Urssaf). This year professional incomes will be prefilled on their income tax declaration. A separate DSI will still be needed for the last time, before abolition in 2021
- The Conservative Party has said it would increase stamp duty for overseas buyers of UK property, including British expatriates looking to return.
See more key changes for money and tax here.
WORK AND BUSINESS
- “VERY” small businesses with fewer than 10 employees will be obliged to produce their invoices in digital form from this year if making contracts with state bodies. Free software called Chorus Pro is available.
- The government will be encouraging businesses again this year to offer a so-called “Prime Macron” to staff during the first half of the year – a tax and social charge-free (up to a total €1,000) bonus. The exemption applies only for employees earning less than three times the Smic minimum wage, and it only applies this year if the business has also put in place a plan d’ intéressement, a scheme for employees to benefit from extra money if profits or performance of the business improve. These are usually put in place for three years or more but can now be for one year minimum.
- Levels to benefit from the simplified micro entreprise business regime are set to rise in 2020, to €176,600 for sales or €72,500 for services and professions libérales.The level to be able to opt for the simple libératoire income tax rises to €27,519 per family quotient part.
- France's oldest nuclear power station, at Fessenheim (above), will close by June 30.
- This year was the deadline set at the 2015 Paris climate summit for a new stocktake of carbon-cutting targets to reduce climate change. Countries will revise goals for 2030 to be more ambitious when they meet in Glasgow in November for a United Nations conference.
- Congres mondial de la Nature 2020, a global conference on nature and biodiversity, will be held in Marseille from June 11-19. It will be public and will aim to galvanise countries to make ambitious plans for when they meet at a UN conference in China in October to plan for wildlife protection during this decade.
- Higher-income households will no longer benefit from the CITE tax credit which gives money off eco-friendly home improvements.
- The credits are also changing to a system of fixed grants paid out by the Anah home renovation agency immediately after work is complete, rather than being claimed via the following year’s tax declaration.
- People with incomes above the intermediate level ceiling level listed on the government site tinyurl.com/y4mcjw2a will not be eligible.
- Those below modest or very modest ceilings will be eligible for grants. Those between modest and intermediate ceilings will obtain an extension of the CITE tax credit in 2020 instead, but there will be some changes to the amount of tax credit available, depending on the kind of work done. The benefit will apply only to homeowners. See faire.fr for more.
- Wild animals such as lions and elephants are banned from circuses in Paris from this year.
- The governement is asking local authorities, especially regional councils, to provide more support to anyone looking to renovate homes to be more energy-efficient. €200million has been budgeted to support it but there is no concrete information yet (the website of your region may have information). This is intended to back up advice already available via the network at faire.fr.
- A court case under way in the European Court of Justice challenging the restrictive rules in place in Paris about Airbnb-type holiday rentals is expected to reach a ruling in February.
- Rules on how copropriété buildings (usually flats, with shared communal areas) are run are to change on June 1. They will include new responsibilities for homeowners of the copropriété.
- All scientific research articles that benefited from state funding will be freely available to scientists across Europe this year to boost innovation and the creation of start-ups making use of new research.
- The European Space Agency’s Exo Mars Rover is scheduled to launch sometime in 2020. It will reach the so-called red planet in 2021.
CULTURE AND EVENTS
- June 18 is the 80th anniversary of the Appel du 18 juin – the first speech that Général de Gaulle made on the radio from London. He called on the French to join him in continuing the fight against the Nazi regime in what is seen as the founding statement of Free France and the French Resistance. This year will also see other key anniversaries linked to the former French president, including 130 years since his birth in Lille on November 22, 1890, and 50 years since he died on November 9, 1970. Among plans to mark the dates, France 2 will broadcast a mini-series on his career and politics.
- This year is a leap year, so there will be a February 29, a Saturday.
- Lille has been designated World Design Capital in 2020 and promises around 50 events during the year, including major exhibitions explaining the place of design in meeting today’s challenges in areas such as climate change, better housing and a more inclusive society.
- This year’s Tour de France, from June 27 to July 19, will start in Nice and will largely focus on the south of the country (see more here)
- France have been drawn in what commentators called a “group of death” in the opening round of the UEFA Euro 2020 football competition – against reigning champions Portugal and three-time European champions Germany. It will take place from June 12 to July 12 in a dozen European cities – but none in France.