The debate continues on who can trade in France on a Sunday

New laws on Sunday opening hours across France cause a stir: France’s economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, is shaking up the rules

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Just last week, French MPs began debating the proposed Macron Law, which is basically a dramatically different suite of reforms designed to remove obstacles to French economic progress. Emmanuel Macron is France’s economy minister, appointed by President Hollande to reform some of France’s somewhat archaic laws. He is young – just 36 years old – and views about him are polarised, to say the least. The socialists view him with suspicion, yet many others view him as a high flyer and beacon of hope, who aims to do nothing but good for the French economy.

The measures are all designed to help tackle the French deficit, which has been a cause for considerable concern with ministers, and comes as France is under pressure from the EU to take steps to address it after needing an extension to reduce their budget to 2017.

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

The plans designate special areas as tourist zones, for example, the famous Paris Champs Elysées, where shops could be open every Sunday – and every day of the week, staying open until midnight. A decree was officially published on Thursday to authorise Sunday opening of shops in twelve stations, including six in Paris. The new law also covers the popular tourist stations of Avignon-TGV, Bordeaux Saint-Jean, Lyon Part-Dieu, Montpellier Saint-Roch, Marseille Saint-Charles and Nice Ville.

Trade Unions have voiced concerns that these new measures may lead to undue pressure for employees to work on Sundays, easting in to their family and leisure time, which is highly valued in France and considered a traditional part of the culture. A major demonstration is already being planned.

Regulated professional services in France would also be affected by the changes to the law, for example, lawyers and notaries. They have also staged protests, as the Sunday opening hours would open their businesses up to greater competition.

The French love nothing better than a debate; and this one has really got the country talking!

In addition to shops and retail outlets, the new laws would affect many different business sectors in France. For example, as part of the proposed measures, airports such as Nice and Lyon may potentially be privatised as a result of the changes, and intercity bus routes would also feel the impact.

France is a country proud of its ancient traditions and this new law has caused much debate across the country. However, when all is said and done, one has to move with the times; and Sunday opening for most shops is looking likely to become generally accepted in the next few years. 
 

Further reading for Living In France

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Finding work in France

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in France.
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Education in France

Are you emigrating to France with school-age children?

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Social life in France

The best way to get settled in France is to find out as much as you can about your new community.
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Healthcare

The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world...

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