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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Le Pen’s plan to legalise discrimination against foreigners in France – including dual nationals

Marine Le Pen will put a bill on immigration and national identity to a referendum within six months if she wins the election - and her plan would have a major impact on all foreigners living in France, even if they have taken French citizenship.

Le Pen's plan to legalise discrimination against foreigners in France - including dual nationals
French far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. (Photo: Christophe Simon / AFP)

This bill, “will modify a number of articles of our Constitution in order to integrate the migration issue into our supreme text but also to prevent supranational jurisdictions from forcing France to follow policies contrary to the will of the French people,” according to Le Pen’s manifesto.

If Le Pen gets in and if the law is passed, an estimated 3.5 million people in France suddenly would not have the same rights here as ‘French nationals’.

This includes people who have lived in France for decades and people who have become French citizens.

The plan for “national priority” sets up legal discrimination between French nationals and foreigners for jobs in the private sector, civil service, as well as access to social housing, healthcare and social benefits.

READ ALSO Macron v Le Pen: What are their policies for foreigners living in France?

Le Pen, a lawyer by profession, knows that the bill she proposes violates the French constitution, European conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1789.

That’s why she wants to put it to a referendum, which bypasses parliament and sidesteps the scrutiny of the Conseil Constitutionnel – France’s highest court on all matters related to the constitution, which would be highly likely to say that the move is unconstitutional.

Article one of the proposed bill – available here (pdf) – contains the following text: “The access of foreigners to any public or private employment, to the exercise of certain professions, economic or associative activities, professional or trade union representation functions, as well as to the benefit of solidarity benefits, is determined by law.

“The law sets the conditions and areas in which national priority may be applied, understood as the priority granted to nationals.”

Under article six: “The law may prohibit access to jobs in government agencies, public companies and legal entities, public enterprises and legal persons entrusted with a public service mission to persons who possess the nationality of another State.”

Le Pen’s immigration law would remove the right of foreign-born residents of France to work for – among others – La Poste, EDF, SNCF, businesses in social and health sectors and would also allow for “criminal or administrative sanctions to punish the actions of any person or legal entity who disregards the rules governing the entry, stay or work of foreigners in France, including through any assistance.”

As well as blocking access to certain professions, the bill – if passed – would deprive foreigners in France of family allowances and other benefits, deny them access to trade unions, make gaining French citizenship more difficult, do away with the droit du sol rule (which gives the right to citizenship of people born in France) and prevent many families from reuniting in France. 

It would also make access to healthcare more difficult.

Foreign nationals who want to settle in France under a Le Pen regime, they will have to prove that they are “holders of an insurance contract covering their health expenses” because, warns the RN candidate, “they cannot constitute a cost for the social protection system and for public finances”.

It’s not clear how long foreigners would be required to have private health insurance for and when/if they would be allowed to register within the French health system.

Le Pen’s chief of staff Renaud Labaye has insisted that, as a constitutional text, it was necessary to keep definitions as broad as possible to allow legal implements to then “restrict the scope of prohibitions”, including those who hold dual nationality.

At present certain jobs – including senior civil servant roles – are restricted to French nationals while some  public sector roles are restricted to EU citizens.

You can run for office on a local level – say town councillor or village mayor – if you are an EU citizen, but to run to become an MP, Senator or the president you must be French.

Crucially, however, there is no distinction between people who were born French and those who acquired French nationality later in life through family, marriage or residency – there have been two French presidential candidates (Eva Joly in 2012 and Anne Hidalgo in 2022) who were not French citizens from birth.  

In her 2012 and 2017 election campaigns, Le Pen proposed banning dual nationality, meaning that people could only become French citizens if they renounce the citizenship of their birth country. However in 2022 she has ditched that policy, to the reported surprise of many in her party. 

French citizenship rules are relatively generous, allowing citizenship after five years of residence – albeit with a ton of paperwork, a French language qualification and an average 18-month waiting time.

France granted citizenship to 86,000 people in 2020, and since the Brexit referendum many British long-term residents of France have taken French citizenship in order to hold onto their EU rights.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

Member comments

  1. For a nation that fought so hard against the Apartheid regime and policies in South Africa, it is surprising that they seem to have taken so much from that rule book to apply in their own nation…I will be surprised (but not terribly so) if this comes to pass…

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ENVIRONMENT

French energy firms urge ‘immediate’ cut in consumption to avoid shortages this winter

France's top three energy providers are imploring the public to reduce their energy consumption this summer in order to save resources and avoid shortages this winter as cuts to Russian gas and oil begin to bite.

French energy firms urge 'immediate' cut in consumption to avoid shortages this winter

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of the three top French energy companies came together to urge the French public to reduce their energy consumption.

The heads of TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie published an open letter in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday calling on the French to “immediately” reduce their consumption of petrol/gasoline, diesel, oil, electricity and gas in order to help stave off the shortages and soaring prices that could threaten “social cohesion” in France this winter.

The letter begs people to begin “acting this summer,” on cutting energy and fuel usage, adding that this “will allow us to be better prepared to face next winter and in particular to preserve our gas reserves.”

Why is there a risk of shortage this winter?

In light of the war in Ukraine, deliveries of Russian gas to France and other European nations via pipeline have been significantly decreased. Thus France, like the rest of Europe, is attempting to fill its gas reserves in preparation for this upcoming winter. The goal is to have French gas reserves at 100 percent by this fall

As Americans prepare for ‘driving season’ (when many families use their cars to go on vacation) and China begins to relax some of its lockdown measures, the world oil market is looking at high demand that may not be in line with current production capabilities. 

France is a relatively small consumer of Russian gas, but does depend heavily on domestic nuclear plants for energy – production of nuclear energy is however threatened by two things; droughts that mean shortages of water for cooling purposes at plants and maintenance issues that have lead to several plants being temporarily shut down for safety

Concern for adequate energy resources has been on the minds of energy providers for several years, according to the manager of France’s Electricity Transmission Network (RTE).

France has been anticipating that the winters of 2018 to 2024 would be “delicate” as this is a pivotal period for energy transition after several coal-powered plants were closed. France’s oldest nuclear plant, Fessenheim, was also shut down and disconnected from the French grid in 2020.

As of late May, almost half of France’s nuclear reactors were offline due to planned closures, as well as issues related to corrosion.  

What is the real risk of shortage this winter?

“There is no risk of shortage in the short term,” assured France’s Ministry of Environment in May, as there are up to “90 days worth of strategic stocks, as well as commercial stocks, which can both be distributed throughout the country as needed.” 

Experts like Professor Jan Horst Keppler, from Paris-Dauphine University, also do not anticipate a widespread shortage, though, “potential spot shortages are possible.”

Horst Keppler clarified that it is not possible in many cases to substitute one quality of oil for another, which could mean that some refineries may experience “spot shortages.” Therefore, he urged that consumers and providers will have to pay close attention to “the availability of gasoline, diesel and heating oil” even more so “than the availability of crude oil.”

Other European countries, however, are sounding the alarm. Germany, for example, will return to coal-powered energy in order to meet demands this winter. 

What are the energy companies doing to combat risk of shortage?

According to their statement, the heads of France’s top energy providers accept their “responsibility to act on the supply side” by implementing short term plans such as “diversifying gas supplies, proactively filling storage facilities, speeding up liquified natural gas (LNG) imports, and reactivating ‘mothballed’ facilities.”

Additionally, the leaders hope to launch a “major energy efficiency program” and a “national hunt for waste.”

In addition to ensuring adequate energy stocks for the winter, the three leaders also urge the French public to consider reducing consumption as a means for increasing household purchasing power in the fight against rising cost of living, as well as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also said that reducing energy “immediately” will show solidarity with other European nations at greater risk, particularly those in Eastern and Central Europe. 

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