[JURIST] The Appeals Court of Paris [official website, in French] Friday struck down the CNE, contrat nouvelles embauches [authorizing ordinance, in French; Wikipedia backgrounder] as a violation of international and basic French labor standards, dealing a setback to efforts by French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile; BBC profile] to open the French labor market. The CNE, a model contract which reduced barriers to hiring and firing in small firms with a maximum of 20 employees, was strongly opposed by labor unions before and after it came into force in 2005. Laurence Parisot, president of MEDEF [trade website], the French employers association, said in a statement [text] that she was "astonished" at the ruling.
An analogous contract allowing at-will terminations by employers of first contracts, the so-called CPE, contrat premiere embauche [JURIST news archive] was signed into law [JURIST report] in April 2006 by then-President Jacques Chirac, but was effectively repealed and replaced [JURIST report] after mass protests [JURIST report] across France. The Financial Times has more.