France’s Hollande Tells Ministers To End Roma Row

The moves, aimed chiefly at fixing weaknesses in short-and medium-haul flights and cargo, were announced today to union representatives. The targets are 582 cuts at Pariss Charles de Gaulle airport and 128 at the secondary Orly airport, 591 at French provincial airports and 282 in freight, the units chief executive officer, Frederic Gagey, said in a statement. Transform 2015 is working and our initial efforts are beginning to pay off, Gagey said in the statement, referring to the carriers restructuring plan. We need to continue and intensify our actions. Todays disclosures were the first details on how Air France would reach a goal of shedding 2,800 jobs as Europe s economic slump drags the unit toward a sixth straight annual loss. Gagey and Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac are trimming frequencies, shifting flights and extending cuts initiated earlier. The airline said it still has 350 more pilots than it needs and 700 more cabin crew, and measures to deal with that over-staffing will be presented later. Air France announced 5,100 job cuts last year. The Air France unit wont make a profit this year, the company announced Sept. 18. The Paris-based parent company, helped by better performance at KLM, still expects an operating profit for 2013. To contact the reporters on this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at gviscusi@bloomberg.net ; Andrea Rothman in Toulouse at aerothman@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Jasper at cjasper@bloomberg.net ; James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann By John Irish and Emmanuel Jarry PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 8:21am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – France’s military will cut about 7,500 jobs next year, a defense ministry source said on Thursday, detailing government belt-tightening plans that the far-right hopes will deliver it votes at municipal elections in 2014. The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy)

France military eyes 2014 cuts, far-right seeks to benefit

Seeking to heal a widening rift between centrists and left-wingers in his coalition over the issue, Hollande took both Duflot and Valls to task at his weekly cabinet meeting. “I insist that all ministers pay full mind to their mission, their behavior, how they express themselves and of course, how they act,” Hollande told the meeting, according to presidential aides. “Being a member of a government does not mean you cannot have your point of view but it does mean you have to strictly apply the rules I have just set out,” he said, adding: “the debate should be inside the government not in public”. The dispute not only exposed tensions within Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition but raised new questions over the authority of the president, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent amid dissatisfaction over his record on the economy and jobs. Hollande said he was also asking Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who is suffering from low popularity ratings too, to ensure better coordination in the government. The far-right National Front has signaled it plans to make the Roma issue a central campaign theme for next March’s municipal elections. It is hopeful it can tap a protest vote against Hollande to score gains in town halls across France. Valls’ tough talk on law and order has made him Hollande’s most popular government minister. A poll released at the weekend showed three-quarters of French agreed with his comments on the Roma. Hollande’s government has sought to distance itself from a hard-line policy under conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who explicitly accused Roma of links to crime and launched a program of deportations. Yet since the beginning of the year some 13,000 Roma have been evicted from illegal camps and welfare groups say the failure of schemes to re-house their inhabitants means they find themselves on the streets or simply set up new camps elsewhere. Moreover France this week said it was currently opposed to Romania and Bulgaria joining the European Union’s passport-free Schengen zone when current restrictions on the movement of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens end in January 2014. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France was concerned about the ability of Romanian and Bulgarian authorities to ensure border security, airing concerns that are also shared by Germany.

Faith, politics clash over Muslim-run women’s gym in France

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Local security officials said on Friday the gym met all safety standards. That meant it could stay open, but it did not guarantee it would now be out of the political spotlight. The Orty Gym – Orty means “my sisters” in Arabic – is a 200 square-meter space with pink work-out equipment, freshly-painted fuchsia and orange walls and a large room where classes such as Hip Hop, Zumba, Stretching and Step are offered. Some of the 70 women exercising in the room cover their hair with a headscarf but many do not as all races and religions are welcome, said Lynda Ellabou, who owns the gym with her husband. SECULARISM Ellabou, wearing a fashionable pink and black headscarf, said their problems began in June after Raoult realized the couple planning to open the gym on a commercial strip on the periphery of the suburb of 14,000 residents were Muslim. “When he saw my (bearded) husband he had a shock. ‘You’ve rented a place where?’ he asked us,” Ellabou recalled. “‘You’re going to put a veiled woman at the reception desk too?'” “In the end he made us understand it wasn’t going to be possible to open,” she said, adding Raoult later objected to the gym’s lack of parking and steps leading to the emergency exit. The issue of secularism arose when a Muslim website said the gym had a prayer room in the back. Ellabou said the page was not theirs and the report was wrong, as there is no such room. Full-face veils are banned in public in France.

France Cuts Wine Outlook Third Time on Hail Damage in Champagne

The harvests are starting late, in September for those most advanced but for the most part the volumes should be gathered in October, the ministry wrote. The fungus botrytis is developing on white-wine grapes in Burgundy as well as grapes in Bordeaux, the Charentes region and Frances southwest, which may prompt growers to accelerate the harvest, according to the report. In the Champagne region, production is still forecast to jump 43 percent from 2012, when vines supplying grapes for the bubbly wine named after the region suffered from frost damage, mildew and the fungus oidium. The regions wine volume is predicted to jump to 2.82 million hectoliters from a previous outlook for 2.99 million hectoliters. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, based in Paris, is the worlds largest maker of champagne, with brands including Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon . Vranken-Pommery Monopole SA (VRAP) ranks second, followed by Pernod-Ricard SA and Laurent-Perrier. 2012 Vintage Frances 2012 vintage was the smallest in more than four decades after grapes across the country suffered from drought, humidity, frost, disease and hail, with final output more than 10 percent below an initial forecast. Volume in the Bordeaux region, Frances biggest producer of designated-origin wines, may fall 19 percent to 4.43 million hectoliters, unchanged from last months outlook. Hailstorms in the Bordeaux region at the start of August damaged vines in the Libournais area that includes Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, as well as the Entre-Deux-Mers area. That caused losses estimated at about 78 million bottles. The harvest of white-wine grapes is nearing completion in Bordeaux, while gathering of the red-wine grapes started at the end of September, the ministry wrote.