What changes in France in February 2019

One month into the new year, and there are already some changes afoot in France. This month sees changes to food costs, péage tolls, a drop in gas prices, and a rise in the prime d’activité .

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Increase in some food costs

From February 1, some food products will cost more. This is part of the government’s new food law, which limits how cheaply some goods can be sold. This is to stop supermarkets from selling popular products at loss-making prices, to ensure producers will always get paid a fair rate.

Shops will now be required to sell products for at least 10% more than the wholesale price. This means that prices will rise on products from commonly-discounted brands such as Nutella, Danette, and Ricard. For example, a 750g pot of Nutella will now cost €4.39, instead of €4.05.

A rise in péage costs

Tolls at péages will rise by 1.8%-1.9% in February, due to pre-existing agreements in motorway management company contracts. Yet, after transport minister Elisabeth Borne asked the companies to address their prices in light of the gilets jaunes protests, now any driver making 10 or more return journeys on the same road will receive a discount of 30%.

This will apply to motorways managed by the companies Vinci Autoroutes, Sanef and Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône.

A rise in the prime d’activité

Anyone who claims the prime d’activité benefit - a top-up for the least well-off households - will receive more money from February, after the amount was re-evaluated. For those who earn the equivalent of the minimum wage, this could mean a jump from €90 to as much as €169 per month.

This was a direct intervention from President Emmanuel Macron in response to the gilets jaunes protests.

A drop in gas prices

Following moves by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to lower gas and electricity prices, regulated gas prices will drop by 0.73% in February, and are expected to stay stable in March.

A further drop is expected in April (1.91%), May (0.6%) and June (0.45%). Prices will drop for those who use gas to heat their homes, for those who use it to cook (0.3%), and those who use it for cooking and for heating water (0.5%).

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