With France's economy in the doldrums and the government under pressure to boost jobs, the country's economy minister is poised to launch a package of reforms on Wednesday to unlock France's economic potential.
Plans to reform France's rigid labor market and deregulate certain "protected" professions such as pharmacists and taxi drivers are among the measures due to be launched by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron when he presents his "growth and activity bill" later Wednesday.
One of the more controversial reform measures is a proposal to allow businesses to open on over the weekend, albeit for a mere 12 further Sundays a year. Although Sunday trading is the norm in countries like the U.K. and U.S., it goes against the cultural grain in France and there are strict regulations governing weekend trading licenses.
With a slumping economy and high unemployment France's socialist government, led by President Francois Hollande, does not have much of a choice, however.
The jobless rate rose to 10.4 percent in the third quarter, up from 10.1 percent in the previous quarter, the country's statistics body INSEE reported last week. Data released by Markit last week also showed an ongoing decline in business activity, further fueling concerns over the country's poor economic environment.
On Wednesday, industrial production figures added to the gloom when they depicted a 0.8 percent month-on-month decline in October.
The reforms are expected to meet with opposition from more hardline members of the ruling Socialist party and member of the soon-to-be-regulated professions such as pharmacists. But they are certain to be welcomed by business lobby groups such as MEDEF, who have long campaigned for reforms to free up France's struggling business sector.