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Life to get simpler as France cuts red tape

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Life to get simpler as France cuts red tape
No more waiting in line? Not quite, but France is set to launch reforms aimed at making it easier for individuals and businesses to interact with the state. Photo: David Morris
09:25 CEST+02:00
France is to launch a series of "modernisation" measures on Wednesday aimed at simplifying its dreaded bureaucracy and make life easier for the public. From driving penalty points to restaurant tickets, here's a breakdown of the main changes.

French bureaucracy is notoriously slow and for most expats, very confusing. But the French government is aiming to make it a little bit easier.

On Wednesday, a set of 201 measures were due to be launched, that could go some way to making “l’administration” more modern and user-friendly.

The government says the measures will save the country €3 billion ($3.9billion) in 2014 by speeding up and simplifying the interactions between the French state and those who live and run a business in the country.

Many will say the move is long overdue.

Here are some of the main features:

ID cards

Passed by the French Senate yesterday, this new measure will extend the life of a “carte d’identité” from 10 to 15 years, making life that bit easier for the individual.

The reform should also remove backlogs at town halls and local authorities, saving money and man hours in the process.

Penalty points online

Checking how many points you’ve racked up on your driving license is never a pleasant experience, but at least now it should be a little less time-consuming, with the data being posted online for motorists to consult.

Digital restaurant tickets

The restaurant ticket – whereby companies over a certain size give their employees roughly eight euros a day to spend on food – is one of France’s most gratefully-received benefits.

However, keeping track of all those “cheques” can get messy, and Wednesday’s reform looks set to simplify everything.

Between now and the end of the year, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the paper system will be phased out and replaced by a rechargeable card and smartphone app, to make paying for lunch and shopping for food more efficient.

Business tax credits

It’s not just individuals and consumers who stand to benefit from Wednesday’s efficiency drive, businesses should find it easier to get valuable tax credits from now on.

The process to apply for a research and development tax refund (“credit d’impôt recherché”), for example, will be simplified, and restrictions on it lessened.

The threshold beyond which an auditor is called in, is also set to be reviewed by the government.

“In all, by January 1st 2014, some 1.3 million businesses will be benefiting from lighter paperwork and formalities,” an advisor to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told French TV TF1.

Business registration

The obligation on trading companies (“societies commerciales”) to register with French tax authorities will be removed.

Such firms can now simply register with their chamber of commerce, avoiding a previous duplication and cutting paperwork and resulting costs in half.

Digitizing administration

Several other administrative procedures for businesses are also set to be done online rather than with physical forms, including payment of VAT and registering state procurement contracts.

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