Last Friday French President Jacques Chirac tried to defuse the crisis by passing the law but demanding the controversial clauses be changed. He has ordered the CPE’s trial period be cut to 12 months and employers justify lay-offs. In parliament today Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was fighting off opposition claims he has lost control of the situation.“The necessary changes to the law will be made. In practice no commitments will be made as long as the changes have not been introduced,” he told lawmakers. “All this, will be done in accordance with our institutions, where – need I remind you? – the president presides, the gouvernment governs, and the parliament legislates, and the parties work together and are accountable to our constitution and democracy,” he concluded. Supporters of the CPE law, which only applies to under 26-year-olds, argue it will go some way towards freeing-up strict French labour laws that are blamed for the high unemployment rate.