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France, desperately seeking jobs and growth, debates bill to free up labor rules

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PARIS — France's Parliament has started debating a bill promoted by the Socialist government aimed at freeing up the country's labor rules and regulations, in order to boost hiring.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told the National Assembly on Monday that the bill will inject "more vitality, more justice and more transparency" into France's economy.

The bill has prompted sharp criticism from leftists including in the government's own camp, with some lamenting that it's too pro-business.

One of the most controversial measures aims at relaxing rules on stores' Sunday and evening opening hours, especially in tourist areas.

Other measures include removing some restrictions on new bus lines to increase competition with national rail operator SNCF; and opening up regulated professions such as notaries and auctioneers to greater competition.

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