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France’s Macron Sets Out Corporate Law Shake-up in Reform Bill

France’s finance minister promised to cut red tape on companies, open up more financing for them and create incentives for employee profit-sharing under a new bill presented on Monday.

The proposed law is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business reform drive that has already eased labour laws and cut companies’ and entrepreneurs’ taxes.

“The law’s ultimate objective is more growth and the creation of a new French economic growth model,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters.

Le Maire said that by 2025 the overhaul of French corporate law was expected to boost overall gross domestic product by one percent over the long term.

The new law aims to address one long-standing complaint from business owners about a complex system that imposes new charges in multiple stages as companies increase their workforce.

The bill would simplify the system, Le Maire said, by halving the number of those stages to three — bringing in new charges and obligations when a company has 11, 50 and then 250 employees.

It would also make it easier, cheaper and faster to register a company, giving entrepreneurs a single online platform to replace the current round of seven administrative bodies.

Liquidation of insolvent companies will be sped up so business owners can move on and bankruptcy law will give more power to creditors who have a stake in seeing the firm survive, the minister added.

The government aims to boost the more than 220 billion euros French people currently hold in long-term retirement savings, which it hopes will make more funds available to be invested in companies’ capital.

To do that, employees’ voluntary contributions will largely be made tax-deductible for all types of savings products and they will be able to transfer savings from one money manager to another at no cost, potentially boosting competition, according to a statement on the bill.

The government aims to make profit-sharing much more common in small companies by scrapping charges employers currently have to make on payouts to employees.

Largely because of that measure, the new law is expected to cost the government 1.2 billion euros annually, which Le Maire said would be paid for by planned cuts in subsidies to companies.

The law also sets the stage for several large privatizations with the proceeds already earmarked for a new 10 billion euro innovation fund.

It will in particular lift legal restraints on selling down stakes in airport operator ADP and energy group Engie while allowing the national lottery FDA to be privatized.

While some left-wing and far-right politicians have said the sales amounted to selling the family jewels, Macron’s party has a sufficiently large parliamentary majority to pass the bill with little trouble early next year.

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