What We Missed in May

French Flag.  Photo: Flickr.com/ Sylvain Naudin

French Flag.
Photo: Flickr.com/ Sylvain Naudin

President of the UMP Ends Functions as Lawyer (April 22)

Jean François Copé – president of the UMP – announced he will cease his lawyer activities to be able to fully focus on his political group and his country. Copé left his job with the international law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel in 2010, but had until this point openly kept his position as a counsel for them as an independent lawyer. Criticism arose from both sides of Parliament as the government plans to prohibit deputies in the National Assembly from retaining counsel activities in order to prevent any conflict of interest.

First Penalties for Wage Discrimination Against Women (April 25)

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – minister of women’s rights – announced that two companies, whose names were not disclosed, will have to pay financial penalties for breaching working law rules on wages. Companies with more than 50 employees have the legal obligation to negotiate a collective agreement regarding gender equality. If they fail they must provide a plan for action to solve the problem.

The minister said the first company incurs a penalty of €5,000 per month until the situation is resolved. This amounts to 1% of the payroll for the company’s 150 employees. There is an average pay gap of  €500 between men and women, but the firm did not present any plans to address the issue.

The second company, which has 180 employees, never transmitted its report on the issue and will have to pay €8,500 as it just sold its business.

Labor Day Celebration (May 1)

May 1 is not only International Worker’s day in France, but is also the French Labor day. It is a custom – dating from the 16th century according to legend – to offer lilly of the valley for good luck on this day. That is why the administration authorizes individuals or nonprofit organizations to sell the flowers free of taxes and formalities.

Class Actions Soon Allowed in France (May 2)

A bill presented to the Council of ministers introduces class actions in France: a genuine legal revolution. But this is not a mere copy of the American version, since it  will be strictly limited to consumer and competition law. Thus environmental or medical law will not be concerned. Furthermore, compensation will only be possible for material damages, as opposed to physical or moral damages. Finally, only approved nonprofit organizations of consumers will have the right to bring class action lawsuits.

May 8 celebration (May 8)

President François Hollande commemorated, alongside his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945, marking the end of World War II. He called for the strengthening of relations with Poland and Germany, and wished for growth and employment in Europe.

Reform in French Universities (May 8)

On May 28, Parliament adopted different measures with the aims of increasing the chances of success for students, simplifying the organization of higher education, promoting the use of digital technology, and strengthening the international attractiveness of French higher education.

The opposition voted against the reform, but so did some left wing members, who felt that the bill did not tackle important issues such as the precariousness of researchers, pedagogy, or student welfare.

The opponents said the largest point of contention was the debate over the legalization of courses taught in English in universities, which are normally prohibited by a law dating from 1994. The French Academy even issued a statement pointing to a risk of the “marginalization of the French language.”

Recognition of Ecological Damage in French Law (May 17)

Another significant evolution in French law occurred on May 17. A bill from the UMP plans to introduce the notion of ecological damage – which was only recognized by the courts until this point. Environmental litigation is certainly not as developed as in the United States, but the lack of definition was a source of insecurity for business. Damages should not be capped, since the French principle of full compensation still applies.

Socialist Deputy Condemned to Jail (May 22)

The socialist deputy Sylvie Andrieux was provisionally condemned  to 1 year of imprisonment, a fine of €100,000, and 5 years of ineligibility for embezzlement of public funds for electoral purposes. She appealed the decision.

Missed Nuclear Weapon Test (May 23)

During a firing test a ballistic missile M51 exploded, without its nuclear warheads, above the Bay of Audierne. The maritime prefecture of Brest ensured this failure will not impact on the environment. An inquiry will be opened to determine the causes of the failure.

Copé to Head the UMP until 2015? (May 27)

Jean François Copé was finally declared winner of the battle for the head of the UMP against François Fillon, but dissensions still remained between party members over the past few months. After signing an agreement, Fillon admitted a new election was no longer required. The activists will vote at the end of June to approve the agreement and thereby decide whether a new vote will be held in September.

First case of MERS-CoV death in France (May 28)

After being hospitalized at the end of April, the first patient in France to be affected by the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus – MERS-CoV – died on May 28, aged 65 years old.

From September 2012 until May 29 2013, the World Health Organization “has been informed of a total of 49 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 27 deaths” globally. Since April 2012, cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, UK and France.


  1. violenticecream says:

    I appreciate these monthly summaries. Hope you keep it up 🙂

    • camilleduponteil says:

      Thank you. It is always nice to know that our work is appreciated.


      Camille Duponteil

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