French farmers clash with riot police in Paris in a protest against the government's agriculture policy, while French air traffic control also strike. Ciara Sutton asks whether this most recent disruption could further challenge President Francois Hollande's authority.
French farmers clash with riot police in Paris. This protest marks an angry backlash against new government restrictions on the use of pesticides and proposed tax increases. The planned reform bans the use of pesticides within 200 metres of public places. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FARMER ARNAUD ROUSSEAU, SAYING: "Who can promote biodiversity better than us? Who knows the countryside better than us? We have had enough of hearing Parisians and the middle class telling us what we have to do at home." The government says it will compensate for lower revenue using an ecology tax through other types of levies such as motorway tolls. But farmers aren't the only disgruntled workers in France. Thousands of passengers are facing travel disruption as air traffic controllers launch their strike, expected to last six days. Scores of flights using French airspace will be affected, with Easyjet reportedly canceling around a quarter of flights. Unions are angry about a re-organisation of air navigation in France. The growing unrest is putting further pressure on President Francois Hollande as France remains Europe's problem area. Europe's second largest economy has been stalling in recent months. Data this week revealed French business activity in June shrank at the fastest rate in four months. But CCLA Investment Management's James Bevan remains positive about the economy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIO AT CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "France does at least have economic vibrancy lying beneath the surface. It has some of the most well trained economists in euro land and it does have the capacity to do really well. It just has to unleash its entrepreneurial capability." This week Hollande's government finally approved General Electric's revised bid for Alstom. The near 17 billion euros deal will see GE take over most of Alstom's energy business. The future of Alstom is key for Hollande's government, which says the deal is helping protect key industries. But many feel it could be Hollande's way of pleasing some of his more unruly ministers. The government is fighting to reduce a huge trade deficit and record unemployment.