Macron scraps plans for compulsory French language tests in favour of ‘immigration debate’

A proposed new law that called for foreigners in France to pass a French language test in order to get a long-term carte de séjour residency card has been scrapped - but will be replaced by a 'national debate' on immigration and a new law next year.

Macron scraps plans for compulsory French language tests in favour of 'immigration debate'
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a reception for France's prefects at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (Photo: Ludovic Marin / POOL / AFP)

President Emmanuel Macron told a gathering of local officials at the Elysée that reform of immigration rules in France was still on the table, and would be the subject of a general debate in the coming weeks.

However an Immigration bill proposed by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – which included among other things proposals for foreigners in France to pass a language test before they are granted the long-term carte de séjour pluriannuelle – has been pulled from the autumn parliamentary schedule.

French language tests for residency: What we know so far

Instead, Macron said that a new bill, shaped by the nation debate, will be introduced early in 2023. 

“Our policy today is absurd,” Macron said, because it “consists of putting women and men who arrive, who are in the greatest misery” into poor neighbourhoods.

This “is both ineffective and inhuman,” he said. “Ineffective because we find ourselves with more foreign people in a difficult situation than many of our neighbours; inhumane because this pressure means that they are too often badly received.” 

And he called for asylum seekers to be moved to areas where population numbers are falling. 

In these regions, “the conditions of their reception will be much better than if we put them in areas that are already densely populated, with a concentration of massive economic and social problems”, he said.

More easily available access to education in areas that are under-subscribed would lead to “faster learning of French, investment in vocational training”, while helping keep underused resources open. He did mention a language requirement for residency cards.

He also pledged  to “improve the effectiveness of deportation policies” for illegal aliens, and said France needed to make the granting of visas more conditional on “the spirit of cooperation to take back illegal foreigners, starting with those who disturb public order”.

During his recent trip to Algeria, Macron and his counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune opened the way for a relaxation of the visa regime between the two countries, in exchange for increased cooperation from Algiers in the fight against illegal immigration.

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French MPs back €230m aid for households that use wood-burners for heating

Householders in France who heat their homes with wood-burners will soon be in line for financial help with the cost of keeping warm this winter.

French MPs back €230m aid for households that use wood-burners for heating

During a reading of the draft budget, the National Assembly adopted a €230 million aid package for households that use logs or wood pellets for heating.

The aid package – which had support across the Assembly, and the backing of the government – is modelled on an already existing policy to help the owners of properties that use oil-fired heating systems.

From December 22nd, households heating with wood will be able to apply for a “wood energy voucher” on the cheque energie website. Aid is means-tested, but those eligible will be able to claim between €50 to €200 to help with the cost of heating their homes.

The amendment was passed with 218 votes in favour and just one against.

According to the Agence de la transition écologique (Ademe), wood is the main source of heating for more than three million people in France. 

The price of wood-pellets used in household burners has doubled since the beginning of 2021, leaving many households struggling with the cost of fuel. 

Minister of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal also told MPs that the government was working on ways to reduce ‘profiteering’ from the rising cost of firewood, and said that officials would “not hesitate to crack down” on any cases of fraud.

READ ALSO What are the rules on fires and log-burners in France?