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Sunday opening: Hollande hits back

President defends economy minister Emmanuel Macron’s plan to relax a ban on weekend store openings

PRESIDENT François Hollande has hit back at claims that relaxing a ban on Sunday store openings in France would be a “regression”.

Relaxing the laws on Sunday opening in popular tourist areas is part of economy minister Emmanuel Macron’s plan to help the country out of the economic doldrums. But it had come under fire from the Socialist Mayor of Lille and France’s former employment minister, Martine Aubry, who said the scheme would be a step backwards.

She had earlier written in a column for Le Monde that she would fight to block the measure. "(Sunday) is a precious time that must be devoted to family and friends, volunteer organisations, culture and sport," she said.

Ms Aubry is not the only influential politician opposed to Sunday opening. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has indicated she would not be keen to allow the city’s flagship department stores to open on Sundays, while former Parti de Gauche president Jean-Luc Melenchon also criticised the plan, and even called for the population to unite against it.

Mr Hollande said he wanted to see a debate on Sunday working.

Speaking following his return from a European summit, he said: “Whose rights does it affect if some people, in tourist areas, want to work on Sundays?

“It takes nothing away from anyone and I think it's a good example of what to do.”

“It would interest me to hear the opposition to Sunday opening,” he said. “I have heard nothing on regulated professions, on employee savings, on competition for transport.”

He added that he felt the “best laws” are those that "grant additional rights without removing others".

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