France

   
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 2 2 2 1.5

 

1. CONSTITUTIONAL, LEGISLATIVE OR PARLIAMENTARY AFFIRMATION OF MULTICULTURALISM AT THE CENTRAL AND/OR REGIONAL AND MUNICIPAL LEVELS AND THE EXISTENCE OF A GOVERNMENT MINISTRY, SECRETARIAT OR ADVISORY BOARD TO IMPLEMENT THIS POLICY IN CONSULTATION WITH ETHNIC COMMUNITIES

No.

   
Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Article 1 of the French constitution (1958) says that “France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.”
  • Delvainquière (2007, 20) interprets this as an affirmation that “France does not recognise minorities, whether they be ethnic, religious, linguistic or other. Under French law, all citizens have equal rights, and the law is not intended to accord specific rights to given ‘groups’ defined by their community of origin, culture, beliefs, language or ethnicity” (see also Gilbert and Keane 2016).  
  • To be sure, France is a culturally diverse country, and this dimension is not ignored entirely. De Wenden (2005, 73) has argued that a distinctly French approach to multiculturalism is evolving, particularly with respect to the country’s Maghrebian population, which in their negotiations with French officials, has tended to follow a republican model, asking for a delegation of responsibility in particular areas, while respecting France’s laws and values and assuming a French cultural identity. This, in de Wenden’s view, is the “Frenchcompromise.”
  • In 2007, a Ministry for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development was created by President Sarkozy. It was mandated to control migration flows (and illegal migration, in particular), encourage cooperation between migrants and their countries of origin, promote the French identity and facilitate integration. Integration was recognized as a two-way process that involves migrants as well as the host society. Nonetheless, it was clear that immigrants are expected to integrate into existing French culture and society; it is the responsibility of the state and society to help facilitate this (Ministère de l’immigration, de l’intégration, de l’identité nationale et du développement solidaire 2010). The Ministry was abolished in 2010 and immigration and integration issues now broadly fall under the purview of the Minister of the Interior (which upholds the policies pertaining to immigration and asylum outlined in Decree N° 2013-728 of 12 August 2013, modified by the Decree N° 2018-912 of 24 October 2018; European Commission 2019a). As the European Commission (2019a) notes, this Ministry is responsible for “managing migration flows; for regulations related to visas, foreign nationals’ entry, stay and work in France; for reception and support integration and access to nationality; for the fight against illegal employment and illegal migration and for asylum policies.” 
  • Updates to France’s integration policies also took place in 2016. With this reform, foreign nationals intending to settle in France are required to sign a “Republican Integration Contract” which obliges these individuals to partake in civic and language training with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (European Commission 2019a; OFII 2019).  
  • At the local level, Schiff et al. (2008b) note that policies related to integration and inclusion are rarely ever unified and certainly never targeted directly at immigrants and minorities; they exist instead under the auspices of various other administrative departments and programs. Local migrant councils have been introduced, but their consultative role is limited to issues that fall under municipal jurisdiction(Schuerkens 2005).
  • In 2011, the French Minister of the Interior noted the importance of diversity to France, but also stated that diversity in France should not lead to the adoption of multiculturalism (Ministere de L’Interieur 2011).
 

2. THE ADOPTION OF MULTICULTURALISM IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM

    No.

   
School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Although the school curriculum includes references to recognizing and respecting other cultures, the guidelines do not incorporate multiculturalism or interculturalism, nor does it have any education policies specifically targeting ethnic minority groups (Delvainquière2007; see also Schiff. et.al. 2008a).
  • This is reiterated in an accord signed in 2007 and entitled “Pour favoriser la réussite scolaire et promouvoir l’égalité des chances pour les jeunes immigrés et issus de l’immigration” (To promote academic achievement and equality of opportunity for young immigrants). The convention was signed by several ministries and recognizes the value of cultural diversity and the importance of understanding other cultures. The accord commits to promoting “learning to live together” and to fighting discrimination. It is not, however, a commitment to multicultural curriculum (Ministère de l’immigration, de l’intégration, de l’identité nationale et du développement solidaire 2007; see also Eurybase 2008a).
  • The principle of secularism plays an important role in the French education system (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency,2010). Laïcité has long been an important feature of French curricula, but continues to emerge in recent debates and policy, inscribed particularly in the educational reforms of 2013. Article 41 of the “Reform of the Schools of the Republic” (Law of 8 July 2013) notes that “schools teach students moral and civic education to respect others, including their origins and their differences, the principle of equality between women and men and the principle of laïcité” (quoted in Proeschel 2017, 63).
  • In response to the terrorist attacks in 2015, the French Minister of Education initiated the program, “Mobilizing Schools for Republican Values”, which created new subject areas of moral and civic education (Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et de la Jeunesse 2015). The program was “intended to fight social inequality and to promote the values of the Republic at schools in order to strengthen a feeling of belonging in the Republic” (Busch and Morys 2016, 47). The programme states: “Schools are an indicator of the tensions that cut across French society and the inequalities that characterize it… Discrimination, the difference between stated values and day-to-day reality, cultural isolationism, a focus on minorities and self-segregation have undermined ambitions of fraternity… After the terror attacks that targeted the core values of the Republic, mobilization of the French people makes demands on all of society, particularly schools; a vital part of their role and place in the Republic is to promote and disseminate secularism” (Minister of Education quoted in Busch and Morys 2016, 47-48). Among eleven core measures, the policy maintains that the teaching of values such as secularism needs to be strengthened in schools, alongside a greater emphasis on rituals and symbols of the Republic in schools and classrooms (including the Secularism Charter). Representatives from every school were to be appointed to receive advanced training in teaching secularism, as well as ethical and political teaching (Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et de la Jeunesse 2015; Busch and Morys 2016). 
 

3. THE INCLUSION OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION/SENSITIVITY IN THE MANDATE OF PUBLIC MEDIA OR MEDIA LICENSING

    Only weakly and not explicitly.

   
Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Radio and television broadcasting are overseen by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA), which was established in 1989; it was the third broadcasting regulator to have been created in France.
  • The 1986 Law on Freedom of Communication gives the Conseil its authority. Its responsibilities include ensuring broadcasters adhere to the principles of pluralism and objectivity, ensuring respect for human dignity, protecting the interests of children, and protecting and promoting French language and culture on television and radio. The Conseil must also ensure television is accessible (particularly to those who are deaf or hard of hearing) and that the “audiovisual media reflect the diversity of French society.” In the Conseil’s mandate, it is noted that “the media have a responsibility to present an image reflecting the reality of today’s France and to combat discrimination. The Observatoire de la diversité has been established by the Conseil as a dedicated tool to assess policies implemented by television channels in this respect” (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel 2010; see also Delvainquière 2007).
  • Neither the legislation nor the mandate of the Conseil specifically mentions ethnic or racial minorities, although “diversity” “pluralism” and the absence of “discrimination” are referenced. This is consistent with France’s definition of equality that does not permit the differentiation of groups on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. The mandate of France Télévisions, the public broadcasting network, is to “highlight the linguistic and cultural heritage of France” which, as Cullen International (2019) observes is “expressed by reference to the country as a nation, rather than by reference to communities, special groups or a multicultural dimension.” 
  • Some observers have pointed to the absence of minorities on mainstream television and radio and suggest that this has spurred the development of an ethnic press and various ethno-specific channels (Schuerkens 2005).
 

4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)

    No.

   
Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Latraverse (2008, 3) notes that France employs a formal, universalistic definition of equality. That is, “rules are judged to meet the requirement of equality if they are the same for all. In theory, exceptions to the generality of the law are by their very nature illegal, and the principle of equality is exhaustively expressed by equality before the law.” Of course, there are instances when differential treatment occurs, but the categorization of groups for this purpose is only permitted if the criteria employed are based on purely objective indicators (e.g., socioeconomic status). Categorization on the basis of identity is not permitted and, “specifically, no circumstances are considered to justify differential treatment on grounds of ‘race’ or ‘origin’” (Latraverse 2008, 3). This has been affirmed in French case law, which does not recognize such groups as legal categories (Latraverse 2008).
  • No examples of exemptions for military personnel or police officers could be found and, given the reticence to recognize racial, ethnic, or religious “groups,” it is doubtful that group-based exemptions would be granted. Such policies could only be enacted if they were based on other “neutral” grounds (e.g., social disadvantage, age, sex).
  • Although schools do provide special menus to children who do not eat pork, the wearing of religious symbols is highly restricted. As Schiff et al. (2008a, 11) point out “after a long and much publicized debate, regulations regarding the respect of the secular principle (laïcité) in schools were made more stringent and a law was instituted on March 15, 2004 which explicitly bans the public wearing ‘of signs or clothing through which students ostentatiously manifest their religious faith’ (Law n° 2004-228).”
  • In 2008, India put pressure on the French government to reconsider its ban on the turban, but President Sarkozy reiterated the principles of neutrality and secularism and noted that these apply to everyone, including Sikhs (PTI 2008).
  • In April 2011, France became the first country to ban Islamic face coverings in public spaces (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). Although there are only an estimated 2000 Muslim women who wear the niqab or burqa, then-President Sarkozy argued that veils were oppressive and “not welcome” in France (quoted in BBC 2018a). The law, “On the Prohibition of Concealing the Face in Public Space”, was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014 (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). Sanctions for wearing a face veil in public can include fines (150 euro) and mandatory citizenship classes. Further, anyone found forcing a woman to cover her face can face a 30,000 euro fine (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018; BBC 2018a). In 2015, 1546 fines were incurred for violations to the law (BBC 2018a). 
  • In 2016, further debates emerged about laws pertaining to religious dress when full-body bathing suits for Muslim women – also known as “burkinis” – were banned in several French cities (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). The Prime Minister at the time, Manuel Valls, described the bathing suits as an “affirmation of political Islam in the public space” (quoted in BBC 2018a). The ban in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet was overturned by the top court in France in August 2016, but considerable debate persists and many municipalities continue to outlaw the burkini (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018; Hensley 2019). As recently as June 2019, protests have continued to take shape in various cities to fight local policies (Hensley 2019).   
 

5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP

    Yes.

   
Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Nothing in French law prevents or prohibits the holding of more than one citizenship (see Howard 2005; United States Office for Personnel Management 2001). France signed the Council of Europe Convention that limited dual citizenship in 1963, but in practice France has allowed dual citizenship since the First World War (Bertossi and Hajjat 2013).
 

6. THE FUNDING OF ETHNIC GROUP ORGANIZATIONS OR ACTIVITIES

    Previously, yes, but more recent cuts and changes to the administration of funds have led to uncertainty about their impact on ethnic groups or organizations.

   
Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 1 1 1 0.5

Evidence:

  • In 1981, the provisions of France’s Law on Association, which was originally passed in 1901, were extended to immigrants and the foreign-born. This gave them the right to establish associations under certain conditions, as long as they respect the constitution and, in particular, the principles of secularism, equality, and freedom of conscience (Delvainquière 2007).  
  • This helped to establish a very active cadre of ethnic minority organizations. Many of them received funds through the Fonds d’Action Sociale (Fund for Social Action or FAS), which was set up in the late 1950s and later renamed the Fonds d’Action et de Soutien pour l’Intégration et la Lutte contre les Discriminations (Fund for Action and Support of Integration and the Fight Against Discrimination or FASILD) (see Delvainquière 2007; Schuerkens 2005). Throughout the 1990s, approximately €20 million was distributed to various groups through this fund. In the early-2000s, FASILD helped to fund more than 6000 national and local associations which assisted with housing, culture, and history (Bernardot 2017). However, during this time, FASILD’s management came into question, facing considerable criticism for its lack of strategic vision, inability to evaluate program outcomes, and its attention to supporting cultural connections over professional and personal development (Bernardot 2017).
  • In 2006, following the riots in Paris’s suburbs, a new agency was created—the Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities or ACSÉ—which oversaw many of the programs formally delivered through the FAS/FASILD and other agencies (Agency for Social Cohesion and Equality of Opportunity 2010). ACSÉ was created out of the merging of FASILD, la Délégation interministérielle à la ville (DIV), and le Secrétariat général du Comité interministériel des villes (SG-CIV). The merger was intended to bring together the national and territorial coordination of city and integration policy, which meant that the focus on integration shifted away from assisting specific minority groups toward a focus on cities or areas with a high concentration of immigrants, recognized as “priority neighbourhoods” (Bernardot 2017; Molezion 2017). As Escafré-Dublet (2014, 7) explains, “With the establishment of the ACSÉ, the government sought to develop a policy of equal opportunity that applied to all French citizens regardless of origin.” 
  • ACSÉ worked to promote social cohesion, diversity, civic participation, crime prevention, and anti-discrimination. It has funded more than 32,000 projects and had a grant program that associations could access to support their core operations. The ASCÉ also provided support to organizations delivering a variety of integration services, including language classes and employment initiatives (Agency for Social Cohesion and Equality of Opportunity 2010).
  • In the mid-2000s, ACSÉ faced considerable budget cuts (Bernardot 2017; Molezion 2007). Changes to funding led to the collapse of many small organizations, such as Elele, the national association for Turkish immigrants (Bernardot 2017). 
  • In 2008, the Directorate of Reception, Integration, and Citizenship (Direction de l’acceuil, de l’integration, et de la cityonenneté, DAIC) was created to assist in building and funding integration programs. In 2013, it underwent re-structuring and the focus shifted from immigrants generally to newcomers who have been in France for five years or less. This similarly meant that a number of immigrant and minority associations lost funding or had to shift their focus (even if superficially) to assisting newly arrived immigrants (Bernardot 2017). 
  • In 2014, the ACSÉ was dissolved and replaced by the General Commissariat for the Equality of Territories (CGET), which in 2020 became the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT). These agencies similarly focus on social and economic cohesion across the various regions of France (Ministère de la Cohésion des Territoires et des Relations Avec les Collectivés Territoriales 2020). As Bernardot (2017) argues, the rapid and continuous re-structuring of administrative agencies overseeing integration efforts in France have weakened many associations.  
 

7. THE FUNDING OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION OR MOTHER TONGUE INSTRUCTION

    No.

   
Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Schiff et al. (2008a) argue that the French school system makes very few provisions for ethnic or cultural minorities. Since 1975, there have been some courses offered in “languages and cultures of origin” (Enseignement en Langues et Cultures d’Origine—ELCO), but these are a result of bilateral agreements with various countries of origin (including Algeria, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia- Montenegro, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey) and are not an initiative of the French government. Teachers are provided and paid by the country of origin (Atwill 2009). They have also come under criticism; they are often viewed as an impediment to full integration and in contravention of the principle of equal treatment. As Lyster and Costa (2013, 55) note, “From the point of view of language planning in education, France has been and still remains reticent towards any type of system that might undermine the status of French as the sole language of education.”
  • This is influenced strongly by France’s policy of not differentiating citizens on the basis of ethnic or racial origin; this makes it difficult to target programs specifically to minority children. As a result, programs that assist immigrant or minority children tend to be promoted as initiatives for “disadvantaged” children (Schiff et al. 2008a).
  • Some specialized organizations provide training in the languages most commonly spoken by immigrants (including Arabic, Portuguese, and various languages from Asia and Central and Eastern Europe). Delvainquière (2007, 22) notes that “from a general standpoint, France has been committed, for the last several years, to the development of multilingualism, in particular by increasing the number of language teaching establishments.” There are various programs available to assist in the development of multilingualism; these include self-teaching modules available at Paris’s Public Information Library, as well as language courses offered on Radio France Internationale (Delvainquière 2007).
  • Where there are bilingual classes, these tend to be focused on the instruction of one of France’s regional languages (Eurybase 2008a). Public immersion schools that offered instruction in regional languages emerged in the 1980s but are required to split time equally between French and the regional language in terms of instruction (Lyster and Costa 2013). Outside the immersion schools, reforms to education policy in 2017 have allowed more flexibility for second- or regional-language instruction in the non-compulsory curriculum for children in grades 6-9 (Eurydice 2019a), but emphasis remains on French-language acquisition, especially for migrant students (Atwill 2009). While the curriculum encourages the learning of foreign languages, this tends to be geared toward students destined for higher education, those who attend private schools, and those in the most affluent neighbourhoods; as a result, minority children tend not to be the primary beneficiaries (Schiff et al. 2008a).
  • In 2015, the French Senate rejected a bill to ratify the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages on the grounds that it was a threat to French unity (Honeyman 2015).
 

8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS

    No.

   
Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • There are no circumstances under which distinction between individuals based on race or ethnicity is permitted. Schiff et al. (2008b, 2) note that “state-initiated and state-sponsored programs, designed to help disadvantaged groups in education, employment and public services, are not explicitly aimed at particular ethnic groups. Although anti-discrimination law is quite developed and condemns all forms or differentiation according to ethnic origin in a variety of domains, there exists no French version of affirmative action based on racial or ethnic characteristics” (emphasis added). Further, even where there are policies that could be considered positive action measures targeting immigrants or minorities (including, for example, the designation of several spots at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques for students from particularly disadvantaged school districts), the initiatives are framed in terms of “merit” not on the basis of any socially relevant groupcharacteristic.
  • French law also prohibits the collection of data on race or ethnic origin (Schiff et al. 2008b); this would render it difficult to implement or effectively monitor an affirmative action policy.
  • Some affirmative-action-like policies exist in various sectors of France, but are generally unwritten or focused on generic sociodemographic markers that do not specifically highlight race or ethnicity. For example, the Paris Institute for Political Studies – Sciences Po – introduced their own affirmative-action-like program in 2001 for recruitment and admissions that targeted economically disadvantaged areas and underprivileged schools as a means of engaging with more ethnically diverse students (Perkins 2019). Similarly, in 2004, France Télévisions started what it calls the Positive Action Integration Plan to help diversify its workforce both on-screen and behind the cameras in their public television broadcasts (Pellet 2007). While this plan is unwritten to ensure that legal challenges do not ensue, the goal of the policy is to ensure that "the various components of French society should be better represented, on the one hand in the programmes broadcast by France 2, France 3, and France 5, and, on the other hand, within the company itself" (France Télévisions quoted in Blion et al. 2009, 42). Many suggest, however, that the policy has not had a marked impact on diversifying French media (Blion et al. 2009).