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Insurance, surnames, OAP homes: What French MPs are debating this week

Our round-up of key points politicians will be discussing this week in France

Cour des comptes, pesticides, mortgage, and a nurse caring for an elderly woman

This week, MPs will debate laws on insurance, and hear about the annual report of the Cour des Comptes, pesticides used in the French Antilles, and on the Orpéa nursing-home situation Pic: Petr Kovalenkov / Jinning Li / Dmytro Zinkevych / William Potter / Shutterstock

This week’s discussions in the French Parliament will include follow-up meetings on the Orpéa nursing home situation, a debate on the assurance-emprunteur scheme and the presentation of the annual Court of Audit report.

Tuesday, February 15

Assurance-emprunteur

  • The commission mixte paritaire, a commission of seven senators and seven MPs whose mission is to review bills passed by both houses, will review a proposed law to improve access to assurance-emprunteur insurance for people in France.

Assurance-emprunteur is a mortgage insurance taken out to compensate for any missed repayments that occur because of an unexpected event such as death, unemployment, a prolonged period off work, or total loss of autonomy.

Most banks use techniques to ensure that home buyers begin an assurance-emprunteur policy, and, furthermore, that they do so with them. 

However, assurance-emprunteur is not mandatory by law and can be chosen freely. The proposed law aims to put measures in place to prevent banks from pushing customers into taking out the mortgage insurance that they offer.

The proposed law points out the lack of efficiency of the ‘Lagarde law’ of 2010, the first to have allowed French people to choose their own assurance-emprunteur, hoping that there will now be a fairer, simpler and more transparent extension of the law.

The bill was proposed by centre-right MPs Patricia Lemoine, Olivier Becht, and Pierre-Yves Bournazel.

Orpéa nursing homes

  • MPs of the Social Affairs commission will hear an account from Elodie Clair, from the Hauts-de-Seine departmental council, amid reports of the mistreatment of elderly people in nursing homes run by the Orpéa group, a European leader in the sector.

Read more: Inquiries open after claims of food rationing at care homes in France

The commission will also hear from other members of the public sector about the Orpéa situation on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Wednesday, 16 February

Audit accounts

  • MPs will be presented with the annual report of the Cour des Comptes (Court of Audit), the administrative court charged with conducting financial and legislative audits.

Every year around February-March, the court publishes a round-up of the financial management of most public institutions and some private institutions.

The 2021 edition concentrated on the financial management of the Covid pandemic instead of the traditional round-up of public spending. The report pointed out that the public health sector was understaffed and overwhelmed with patients while lacking in bed capacity.

 

Thursday, 17 February

Insecticide risk

  • MPs will hear Senator Catherine Procaccia speak on chlordecone, an insecticide used in Martinique and Guadeloupe, also known as Merex in anglophone countries and under the brand name Kepone in the United States.

The chemical was used intensively between 1972 and 1993 in both islands to limit the proliferation of black weevil on bananas, but severely impacted the growth of many crops after it was revealed to have contaminated soils for the next hundred years.

More than 90% of people living in Guadeloupe and Martinique are believed to carry chlordecone within their bodies, according to a 2018-study published by French health body, Santé publique france. Chlordecone is believed to increase the risk of prostate cancer. 

People who have worked with pesticides and later developed prostate cancer have been eligible to have their health costs covered under the work-related illness provision since December 22, 2021.

Surname choice

  • MPs will again discuss a proposed law aiming to make it easier to choose which surname people wish to use (put forward by Patrick Vignal, LREM) after a first reading by both chambers.

Although French people have been officially allowed to choose between their father or mother’s name since 2003, eight out of ten children still have their father’s name, the bill states.

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