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French government seeks to charge festivals for police presence

The proposal, which would see festivals reimburse the state for any police required during an event, spells particular trouble for independent festivals

By Molly Long on 16 Jul 2018

Eurockéennes festival

Eurockéennes, in the east of France, is one of the many festivals that will be badly affected


image © Eurockéennes Facebook: Brice Robert Photography

A controversial new memo has angered festival organisers in France, as it seeks to force festivals to reimburse the French government for any law enforcement needed at events. Under the new proposals, pushed by interior minister Gerard Collomb, festivals would be charged for any law enforcement called in for anything not related to terrorism.

The idea has largely been met with scorn throughout the industry, with organisers saying the proposal would not be financially viable without huge increases in ticket prices to cover the costs. The situation was highlighted by organisers behind France’s Eurockéennes. The new proposals would see the festival’s security bill rise from €30,000 to €254,000, a near 800% increase.

According to the proposal, festivals will not have to pay for police in the instance of a terror-related incident, however anything unrelated to terror will be chargeable. The problem, highlighted by media and organisers alike, is that the distinction between terror and non-terror related incidents is becoming increasingly blurry.

“The worst thing is that the police are there to ensure the safety of citizens, who already finance these operations by their taxes. “

France officially ended its state of emergency, declared after a string of deadly terrorist attacks across 2015 and 2016, last year. After the events at Paris’ Bataclan in 2015, the French government set up an emergency fund to cover the costs of heightened security around the country. This fund will be removed next year, leaving festivals, or rather festivalgoers, to foot the bill.

Organisers say this charge would mean fans paying twice for police protection. Yann Bramouillé, organiser of Couvre-Feu festival in western France, explains: “The worst thing is that the police are there to ensure the safety of citizens, who already finance these operations by their taxes.

“The increase in ticket prices, which is essential for our survival, would make them pay for this service a second time.”

Since the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, event security has drastically risen in cost, but payouts from the emergency fund have slowly decreased. These latest proposals have yet to be accepted or confirmed, causing organisers considerable distress. For now, festival organisers can only wait to see what decision will be made.

 


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