France scraps citizenship test for naturalisation
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France’s Socialist government has scrapped a French culture test for applicants for French nationality as part of a programme of undoing “discriminatory” measures introduced by previous President Nicolas Sarkozy right-wing government.
Rights groups slammed the multiple-choice culture test when it was introduced by former interior minister Claude Guéant.
On Thursday his successor Manuel Valls, a naturalised French citizen of Spanish origin, announced that he had ordered regional officials to dump the measure along with a ruling that only long-term job contracts would count as proof of employment.
From now on short-term job contracts and casual work will be taken into account when assessing “professional insertion”, Valls said on a visit to the south-western city of Toulouse.
But the ability to understand and speak French at the level expected of 15-year-old native speaker will be maintained and Valls stressed that candidates must accept the French republic’s core values, including secularism and social solidarity.
"You don't become French by answering multiple choice questions and I reject the idea that only those with permanent employment contracts can become French," Valls said.
But Eric Ciotti, the security spokesperson for Sarkozuy’s UMP party, accused the Socialist minister of wanting to sell French nationality cheap.
“Not just anyone who wants to can become French,” he said. “You have to deserve French nationality and it must involve a certain effort.”
The number of naturalisations was 120,000 in 2010 but fell 30 per cent in the following year and 45 per cent in 2011-2012, Valls said.
Many of those naturalised are teenagers who were not born in France but were brought up in the country and therefore have the right to citizenship when they turn 18 if they ask for it.
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