France has long prided itself on its generous labor laws, that give workers more security and more perks than in most European countries. But hit by the eurozone crisis and an ageing population, France now needs reform
Violent clashes between protesters and police have also broken out in the French city of Nantes. Nationwide protests have disrupted several sectors across France, with air travel among the worst affected.
A planned wall near the French port of Calais aims to deter migrants from ambushing trucks bound for Britain, but many see the construction as a darker symbol of Europe's rising barriers against asylum seekers.
Chancellor Merkel said the EU-27 leaders had agreed to present new plans for reinvigorating the bloc by March. Illegal migration must be stopped, the chancellor added.
France's parliament will hold a final vote on controversial job market reforms on Wednesday. The government wants to finally lock the reforms down. But the workers' unions are still mounting a bitter resistance.
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