France wants to keep its day of rest
Frenchmen from both sides of the political aisle are united in support of a day of rest, as President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to open French shops on Sundays faces fierce opposition in the French parliament. Parliament is due to pass a Bill tomorrow to ease France’s strict trading laws, but hostility to it is so ...
Frenchmen from both sides of the political aisle are united in support of a day of rest, as President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to open French shops on Sundays faces fierce opposition in the French parliament.
Parliament is due to pass a Bill tomorrow to ease France’s strict trading laws, but hostility to it is so widespread that some MPs in Mr Sarkozy’s own centre-right camp predict that it could unravel before becoming law.
The President’s plan to abolir le dimanche is being resisted by an unlikely coalition of interests, including the centre and left-wing Opposition, the Roman Catholic Church, the trade unions and small shopkeepers who fear losing their existing Sunday business to supermarkets. Up to 60 per cent of the public, according to polls, are also against a scheme that will reverse the century-old right to a day of rest.
The President has made Sunday shopping a personal crusade since he promised it in his 2007 election campaign under his slogan of “work more to earn more”. He pillories France as a backward exception to the rest of Europe and has said that he was ashamed when Michelle Obama wanted to take her daughters shopping in Paris on a Sunday last month — he had to arrange a special opening for her at a Left Bank boutique.
Interestingly, while Sarkozy claims France’s laws to be backwards, Sunday shopping is still nonexistant or a novelty in many other European countries:
Although most shopping centres and non-food shops are closed, the French already work more on Sundays than most Europeans. Limited Sunday trading has been allowed in big French cities and tourist areas since 1993. Many other EU countries restrict Sunday shopping more or as much as France. Germany and Austria are only just getting used to the novelty of Saturday afternoon shopping. Belgium, which Mr Sarkozy has cited as a model, allows Sunday trading in only limited areas.
The only EU countries that allow unlimited Sunday opening are the Czech Republic, Sweden and Romania.”
The Times of London could not resist adding, “Britain has restrictions but its citizens still manage to put in more work than in any other EU state.” Thanks for letting everyone know.
BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
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