The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief

The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief


At a two-day summit earlier this week in Deauville, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to discuss Russia’s involvement in the West, according to the New York Times. Sarkozy said on Tuesday, October 19, that he would like to see a common area with the European Union and Russia by 2025, Reuters reported. This common area would include a common economy, combined security efforts, and the elimination of visa requirements. An interview published by the Council on Foreign Relations explored the state of each of the three nations and analyzed the summit and the implications of strengthening relations.

While in Deauville, Sarkozy and Merkel made a joint announcement on Monday, October 18, that the two leaders had reached a compromise in the on-going debate over sanctions for European Union member states in violation of guidelines set by the Lisbon Treaty requiring each member state to maintain a debts below 60 percent of GDP and budget deficits no higher than 3 percent of GDP, Le Monde reported. In a concession to France’s previously expressed concerns, Merkel agreed to drop past demands that sanctions be administered automatically, a decision she defended as necessary to prevent a political standstill, according to Forbes.

In ongoing protests of the proposed bill to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 in France, protests have continued across the nation, leading to police intervention amid violence and posing grave setbacks to multiple transit infrastructures, the New York Times reported. Across France, airports  were barricaded throughout the week. Police unblocked protests at three fuel reserves in the west of the country on Wednesday, October 20, as about 40 percent of the service stations in France suffered from fuel shortages Lyon, less known for violent movements than Paris, erupted in riots throughout the week, according to Reuters.

Citing safety concerns, Alstom, the maker of France’s TGV, filed an official complaint on Tuesday, October 19, with the High Court in London after Eurostar – provider of train services between Paris, Brussels, and London – announced on October 7 that it would invest 600 million euros in express trains produced by German Siemens, Bloomberg reported. Eurostar’s current fleet features Alstom trains produced with engines on both ends, engine placement required by past guidelines on evacuation. The Siemens Valero train features “distributed traction” with motors and electrical equipment distributed throughout the train, which Alstom claims breaks Eurostar’s established rules and creates risks in case of evacuation. The EU Commissioner in charge of train transport told Alstom on Monday, October 18, that the Valero did not break any rules, the Financial Times reported. Deutsche Bahn, who hopes to open train lines between Frankfurt and London by 2013, successfully ran evacuation drills in the Eurotunnel this past weekend with a model similar to the Valero in question.

Minister of Health and Sports Roselyn Bachelot announced on Wednesday, October 20, a new set of proposed laws focusing on bioethics. Included in the proposed changes were the lifting of a ban on stem-cell research that has been in place since 2004 and the removal of anonymity long associated with the donation of sperm and ova, according to Les Echos. The anonymity of reproductive donors has stirred the most debate so far among French deputies, though the law ensures that donor identities will not be released retroactively, Liberation reported. France Soir explored both sides of the debate between children of artificial insemination (about 1,300 annually) claiming a right to know their origins and donors wishing to keep their identities secret.


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