Macron's economic reform to get easier ride in France's post-Charlie climate

Economy minister Emmanuel Macron.
Economy minister Emmanuel Macron. Reuters/Charles Platiau

French MPs on Tuesday began debating the proposed Macron Law, a controversial package of reforms designed to remove obstacles to French economic progress.


One of the most controversial parts of the law is a plan to increase the number of Sundays when shops can open from the current five to a maximum of 12.

In special areas labelled as tourist zones, such as the famous Champs Elysées in Paris, shops could open every Sunday and every day until midnight.

Trade Unions fear that the plan could lead to staff being pressured to work on Sundays, eroding family and leisure time. A major demonstration against the idea is planned for Tuesday.

Under the wide ranging law, heavily regulated professions such as lawyers and notaries would be opened up to greater competition – they too have staged protests.

The law would affect many different sectors: Inter-city bus routes would lose their monopolies, Nice and Lyon airports could be privatised and the driving licence would be simplified.

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron aims to shake up the French economy and tackle France’s worrying deficit.

The French government is under pressure from Brussels, after Paris failed to reduce its budget in line with EU limits last year and was accorded an extension until 2017.

Debate on the proposals in the French National Assembly is likely to last two weeks.
Many on the left wing of the ruling Socialist party dislike the bill intensely and are calling for modifications declaring that it is “not votable in its current form”.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s opposition right-wing UMP is to vote against the package, though much of its inspiration comes from ideas previously advocated on the right, leading some in the UMP to say they’ll break ranks and vote in favour of the law.

The law was the subject of bitter disagreements before Christmas but in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Socialist party is less divided and the UMP is keen not to appear obstructive.

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