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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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POLICE

France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.

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