What’s new in France and diary dates: March 2020
New laws, changes and dates for your diary in March 2020: ratings for clothes, tobacco rise, motorcycle tests get harder and equality rules
- Green ratings for clothes launched
Some clothes sold in France will soon display a score showing how environmentally friendly the garment is, as part of a new system that will become obligatory under EU rules in a few years.
The rating – from A to E – will take account of the carbon footprint of producing and transporting items and the amount of water used, as well as the level of toxicity in fabrics and dyes.
An A-rating signals the cleanest practices.
- €10 for bestselling pack of cigarettes
The cost of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes – the most popular in France – passes the symbolic price threshold of €10 on March 1, as the first of two annual government taxes is applied.
The new 50 centime tax pushes the cost up to €10.
It is set to rise further on November 1, when the second 50c tax is applied.
Currently, nearly a quarter of French people (24%) still smoke daily and tobacco is the leading cause of avoidable death, killing some 73,000 people every year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank say when prices rise 10%, consumption falls 4% in high-income countries.
- Motorcycle tests become harder
A new theory test and higher pass score, as well as a revamped practical test, come into force for motorcycle riders on March 1.
A theory exam specific to motorcyles replaces a previous generic driver theory test, plus oral questions on the test day. Topics include maintenance, driving, road positioning and signalling.
The two-stage practical test will become a combined one-stage process that will require a higher pass score.
The reforms aim in particular to reduce the mortality of motorcyclists, who represented 19% of road deaths last year.
- Equality rules for small businesses
Businesses with 50 or more employees are required to publish their score on an ‘equality index’ online from March 1.
This figure takes into account factors such as the gap between male and female employees on pay, promotion, and maternity and paternity leave.
Businesses with a score of at least 75% across the four parameters will be deemed “conforming”. Any with a lower score must work to reach the conformity figure within three years, or risk financial sanctions.
Dates for your diary
Spring forward... clock change
The clocks change – meaning we lose an hour in bed – at 02.00 on Sunday, March 29.
The entire hour between 02.00 and 03.00 effectively “disappears”, as European Union-wide daylight saving kicks in, as it has every year since 1981.
The 2020 French municipal elections will be held on Sunday, March 15, and Sunday, March 22, to renew the municipal councils of the approximately 35,000 French communes.
Elected councillors and mayors will have a mandate for the next six years, though Brexit means that the hundreds of Britons who served on local councils are now unable to run for local office in France.
See Brexit section