The long path to 'real equality' for France's overseas territories

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France’s National Assembly, the lower house, on Tuesday approved the government’s proposed legislation that aims to significantly reduce the glaring social and economic inequalities between France’s overseas territories and the mainland over a period of two decades. The move was one of President François Hollande’s election pledges, and is set to be his last major reform before the next presidential elections in April 2017. The bill will now go before the upper house, the Senate, before returning to the National Assembly for its final adoption. Julien Sartre reports.

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When Ericka Bareights was in February appointed as secretary of state for the French government’s new ministerial post for “real equality” of social and economic conditions between the populations of France’s overseas territories and that on the mainland, the announcement was met with mockery by some commentators in metropolitan France, for who the junior minister’s unusual title appeared to suggest that there might be a “virtual equality”, or that some equalities that were more real than others.