[Article updated August 2 at 15:45 to amend detail regarding Livret A interest rate.]
August will bring a series of changes to life in France as new laws come into force and other regulations expire.
Monday, August 15 will also be a public holiday to mark Assumption Day.
The end of France’s Covid ‘state of emergency exit’ plan
Sunday, July 31 marked the end of France’s ‘state of emergency exit plan’ with relation to the Covid pandemic, which the government used to introduce measures such as travel restrictions, venue capacity limits, curfews and Covid vaccine passes.
It also meant the end of the Conseil scientifique, the group of medics who advised the government on Covid strategy. This will be replaced by a new committee charged with monitoring the evolution of the situation.
The ‘state of emergency plan’ has also been replaced by a new law including observation, anticipation and advisory measures with regards to Covid and future health crises.
Last week, the French Senate definitively passed the government’s loi sanitaire bill, which contains new measures set to be introduced today (August 1).
The bill does away with the use of health pass requirements for international travellers arriving in France, but includes the possibility of imposing a pre-departure PCR test rule on foreign arrivals if a new, dangerous variant of Covid were to emerge.
Children under 12 will be exempt from the testing requirements if they come into force. The government will have the power to introduce this rule until March 31, 2023.
“This is a necessary shield against a Covid epidemic which has not yet breathed its last,” Health Minister François Braun said.
In future, if another serious Covid wave occurs and the government believes it necessary to introduce a state of emergency, it will have to negotiate the terms of this measure with Parliament.
The bill has also “created a path towards the reintegration” of unvaccinated healthcare workers, if health authorities decided that the obligatory vaccination requirement currently in place was no longer necessary.
For now, the Haute autorité de santé (HAS) has stated that it is “in favour of maintaining obligatory vaccination against Covid” for healthcare workers.
Finally, the bill also extends the use of Covid test and case monitoring tools such as the SI-DEP test results platform.
The end of the ‘state of emergency exit plan’ will also mark the end of the government’s Conseil scientifique Covid-19 advisory body, which has been charged with directing policy with regards to the pandemic.
Extension of government fuel discount
The government’s 18-cent-per-litre fuel discount, which was initially due to come to an end on July 31, has been extended until the autumn, so will continue on throughout the month of August.
In September and October, the reduction is set to increase to 30 cents per litre before dropping to 10 cents per litre for the last months of the year.
Carburants : @BrunoLeMaire propose d'augmenter la ristourne. Elle passerait de 18 à 30 centimes d'euros par litre en septembre et octobre, puis à 10 centimes en novembre et décembre. Il promet en outre une aide spécifique pour les petites stations rurales.#PLFR2022 #DirectAN pic.twitter.com/CPbcfE2i31— LCP (@LCP) July 23, 2022
Livret A and LEP interest rates go up
Every six months, the governor of the Banque de France judges whether the interest rate of Livret A savings accounts should rise.
This instant-access, regulated tax-free account saw its interest rate increase to 1.0% in February, and today will see another rise to 2%.
The interest rate associated with another savings account, the Livret d’épargne populaire (LEP), will also be increasing from 2.2% to 4.6% this month.
This account is also tax-free, but people wishing to open one are subject to income-based criteria, and can only deposit a certain amount.
Increases to pensions and social benefits
Today has also seen basic pensions as well as the revenu de solidarité active (RSA), the prime d’activité, allocations adulte handicapé and allocations familiales benefits increased by 4%.
The rise, which will apply retroactively to July, comes as part of the government’s law on spending power, which was passed by MPs on July 27.
A boost for minimum wage and civil servant salaries
France’s minimum wage (known as the Smic) is calculated based on inflation, which was at 5.8% over a year in June, according to the national statistics institute Insee.
The Smic will therefore increase by 2%, from €1,302.64 net per month to €1,329.06. This equates to an hourly rate of €8.76 instead of €8.58.
This will be the fourth time that the Smic has gone up over the past year, the last time being in May.
The index (point d’indice) used to calculate civil servant salaries will also be increasing by 3.5% in August, benefiting 5.7 million workers.
Financial aids boosted for electric bike purchases
It should soon become easier to buy an electric bike in France, as Parliament votes through a bill aimed at improving public access to grants from August 15.
People wishing to buy an e-bike (vélo à assistance électrique or VAE) are already able to apply for a Bonus Vélo de l’État (state bike bonus) of up to €200 if their revenu fiscal de référence (taxable income) is less than or equal to €13,489 per household ‘part’ (unit).
You can find out more about this criterion on the government website.
From August 15, this sum will increase to a maximum of €300, but will vary depending on the income of the applicant.
For the lowest-income households and people with disabilities, the aid can increase to €400.
If you are hoping to buy an electric cargo bike – with a rack or storage case, for example – the government grant could reach €2,000, as opposed to €1,000 currently.
However, this funding is capped at 40% of the original price of the bike.
You can find out more about these funding packages in our article below:
The prime Macron tripled
The government’s tax-free prime Macron, which enables some employers to pay their employees a bonus to protect their spending power, is being tripled from €2,000 to €6,000.
This only applies to businesses which have signed a profit-sharing agreement or which have fewer than 50 employees.
The prime Macron was first introduced in 2019 amid the gilets jaunes crisis.
It will remain in place until December 31, 2023.