Published: 18 Oct 2012 17:59 GMT+02:00 | Print version
Updated: 18 Oct 2012 17:59 GMT+02:00
France is to scrap plans to make would-be citizens pass a test on the country's history and culture before´being naturalised, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday.
Valls also said that the need for new citizens to have permanent jobs before they are given a passport would also be lifted, but a relatively tough requirement in terms of proficiency in French is being maintained.
"You don't become French by answering multiple choice questions and I reject the idea that only those with permanent employment contracts can become French," Valls said.
The minister is himself a naturalised French citizen of Spanish origin.
The citizenship test had been due to be introduced on July 1, 2012 under legislation adopted under the previous government designed to address concerns over the perceived failure of some immigrants to adapt to the French way of life.
But following the return of Valls' Socialists to government in June, the measure has not been applied.
Valls said a requirement for new citizens to have the same ability to understand and speak French at the level expected of 15-year-old natives would be maintained.
He also stressed that candidates must support the core values of the French republic, in which he included the concepts of secularism and solidarity as well as the classic trio of liberty, equality and fraternity.
"Naturalisation has to remain the natural conclusion of a successful integration," Valls said.
The assessment of candidates' level of French and their perceived support for "republican values" is at the discretion of officials in town halls who process applications. The language requirement does not apply to the over 65s.
Valls said the number of people acquiring French citizenship through naturalization – a total of just under 120,000 in 2010 – had since fallen by more than 30 percent as a result of the previous right-wing administration's policies.
Eric Ciotti, the national secretary of the main opposition UMP, attacked Valls's reforms, saying: "French nationality should be earned, not just given away."
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right National Front, echoed the theme, accusing the minister of "dispensing nationality like metro tickets."
Many of those naturalised are teenagers born in France to foreign parents who have an automatic right to citizenship when they turn 18. Under the new rules, foreign children who spent five years in education will benefit from a "strong assumption" that their citizenship application should be granted.
As Carlo Ancelotti paid fulsome tribute to the retiring David Beckham the Paris Saint Germain manager revealed an announcement on his own future may be imminent. READ () »
France's disgraced former budget minister, forced out of office over a tax fraud scandal, will not seek re-election to his former parliamentary seat, a newspaper reported Sunday. READ () »
Spain's world championship leader Marc Marquez will start on pole in Sunday's French MotoGP on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans after coming out on top in Saturday's qualifying. READ () »
A man was arrested on Friday after causing a scare at the Cannes Film Festival, where he attacked a TV studio with a gun loaded with blanks and a dummy grenade, police and witnesses said. READ () »
French actor and newly-minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu on Saturday compared President Vladimir Putin to the late Pope John Paul II and said the ex-KGB agent is what Russia needs as a leader. READ () »
France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage Saturday after President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate. READ () »
Struggling French oyster farmers, whose haul has diminished in recent years, are set to receive some much needed help from their Swedish counterparts, by importing oyster spats from Sweden for the first time. READ () »
France's highest court the Constitutional Council cleared the divisive gay marriage bill on Friday, paving the way for same sex unions to become legal. Francois Hollande said he would sign the bill into law as soon as Saturday. READ () »
While many in the world of football raised a glass to David Beckham when he announced his retirement on Thursday, elements in the French media as well as PSG fans in Paris could not hide the fact they feel a little cheated by his minimal contribution on the pitch. READ () »
Thieves have stolen Chopard jewellery worth $1 million at Cannes Film Festival, French police reported on Friday. The jewellery was due to be loaned to film stars over the coming days. READ () »