MPs demand more reform of France's Sunday trading laws

Members of President Macron's LREM party call for greater relaxation of regulations to allow business owners to decide whether they should open on Sundays

France 'must go further' in relaxing laws to allow shops and businesses to open on Sundays, a group of 20 MPs from President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party have said.

"What are we waiting for?" the MPs demanded in an article published in Journal du Dimanche. "Many French people want more shops to be open on Sunday. They want to be free to buy, to go out, and to work on Sunday".

Labour and business reform was again top of the agenda when Mr Macron returned to work on Monday after a summer break at Brégançon. A bill, known as Pacte, that aims to loosen labour laws and increase employee share-holding and profit-sharing plans, was unveiled by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in June and was due to be a key topic for discussion, as the President continues his push for economic and employment reforms.

“London, Madrid, Rome… all the major European capitals have understood the necessity of allowing shops to open on Sunday. It attracts tourists and boosts commercial activity,” they wrote. "The time has come for us to play catch up and offer comparable services.”

Scrapping certain regulations would give businesses, "more freedom to decide whether or not they want to open on Sunday”, and would “revitalise city centres”, they argued.

The MPs said reforms Mr Macron had instigated as finance minister in 2015, which allowed for shops in designated “international tourist zones” to open on Sunday and close as late as midnight in the evenings had been a success - but said the time had come to go further still, so that traditional businesses could compete against internet retail services, including Amazon.

“Local businesses bear the brunt of this competition 24/7,” they wrote. “Even those located in high-traffic commercial districts are struggling, with some being forced to close. This breaks local commerce.”

Under current law, retail shops can open up to 12 Sundays per year, pending local government approval, if employees voluntarily agree to work.

Depending on the industry, employees working Sundays can earn overtime pay up to double their regular salary. Retail stores in designated “international tourist zones” or one of a dozen major train stations can also operate.

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