France adheres to a strict form of secularism, known as laïcité, which is designed to keep religion out of public life. This principle was entrenched by law in 1905, after fierce anti-clerical struggles with the Roman Catholic church.

For the first quarter of 2019, the government will focus on three reforms: unemployment benefits, reforming the state and the revision of the 1905 law separating religion and government affairs. The reform of France’s unemployment benefits which is central to Macron’s social program, was officially launched in November but there is still a lot of work to be done.

The changes that Macron wants to bring in include a “safety net” for the self-employed, meaning that entrepreneurs, craftsmen, traders or farmers who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having their business liquidated will, for the first time, receive compensation from the State. Other changes include the right to unemployment benefits for workers who resign and incentives for companies to limit unstable contracts. Meanwhile, the state reform, which was originally delayed in July 2018, is also a big item on the agenda for the French government in early 2019.