The French government has announced it is scrapping a youth job contract that triggered massive street demonstrations and strikes.
After standing firm on the issue for weeks, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said the government would replace the contract with new measures: “I wanted to propose a strong solution,” he said, “because I was convinced that on top of the state’s obligations only a better balance between employer flexibility and job security will allow us to cut unemployment in this country. Not everyone understood that and I regret that.” Villepin said the decision was taken after meetings with President Jacques Chirac and senior members of the ruling UMP party. The popularity of Villepin, who was widely seen as a possible presidential candidate next year, has fallen sharply in the opinion polls. He did not talk about his own political situation in Monday’s address. It remains to be seen whether all of those who have been demonstrating over the past few weeks will be satisfied with the latest development. A fresh nationwide day of action was planned for tomorrow. The new law, aimed at tackling France’s youth unemployment rate of 22 percent,would have made it easier for employers to hire but also to fire young workers.