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France mulls reversing sacrosanct Sunday trading ban

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France's economy minister wants to reverse the country's sacrosanct Sunday trading ban as part of a new bill to help boost the economy and has pledged to get rid of up to 10 billion euros in state assets.

In a press briefing Wednesday timed to coincide with an EU deadline for France and other eurozone members to submit their draft 2015 budgets to the Commission, Emmanuel Macron said crisis-hit France suffered from "three diseases" -- "mistrust", "complexity" and "corporatism."

The country is struggling to bring down its budget deficit to the 3.0-percent ceiling mandated by the EU and has repeatedly missed the target.

This year, the Commission could reject its draft budget and send it back to demand changes, in a move that would be unprecedented and deeply embarrassing for Paris.

As part of his reformist bill, Macron suggested that shops that do not sell food should be allowed to open up to 12 Sundays a year in a bid to cater to tourists and a growing number of French people who want to work or shop on the traditional day of rest.

Currently, retailers can only open on a Sunday under certain conditions -- if they are located in a tourist or a high-density area, for example. Any shop selling food can operate until 1 pm.

But the rules have infuriated workers who want to work Sundays at a time of sky high unemployment, and drawn criticism that they are archaic and ill-suited to a time of economic hardship.

Macron also announced that the government planned to sell off state assets worth between five and 10 billion euros ($6 billion to $13 billion) over the next 18 months.


© 2014 AFP

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