French people

Macron promises a social welfare overhaul and more economic reforms if he wins a second term

French President Emmanuel Macron, a candidate for re-election in the 2022 French presidential election, speaks during a news conference to unveil his presidential program at the Docks de Paris, in Aubervilliers near Paris, France, March 17 2022. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

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PARIS, March 17 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he would raise the retirement age, cut taxes and further ease labor market rules if he wins a second term in a presidential election. next month, seeking a mandate to push with pro-trade reforms.

Opinion polls show Macron is likely to win the first round of elections on April 10 and beat any opponent in a runoff on April 24. His long-standing lead has grown in recent weeks as voters endorse his diplomatic efforts during the war in Ukraine. .

“We are at a tipping point where we can make a real difference,” Macron told a press conference, highlighting the war on the doorstep of the European Union and the global challenge of climate change. Read more

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Highlighting his pro-business credentials is not without risk as households feel the pressure of rising prices, but Macron said he wants to see through an overhaul of the economy.

Presenting his campaign platform for the first time, he said he would raise the retirement age from 62 to 65, cut taxes by 15 million euros a year, condition some work benefits on general interest and reform unemployment insurance to encourage people to return to work. to work.

“It’s completely normal, especially when you consider the state of the public coffers, that we work more,” Macron said.

Macron is a former investment banker who was elected in 2017 on a centrist platform and his policies veered right during his tenure. But he had suspended some of his planned changes, including raising the retirement age, amid a series of crises including the yellow vest protests and the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

With booming economic growth and unemployment falling to its current level of 7.4%, Macron can cite data to show he has restarted the eurozone’s second-largest economy since taking office, but he said he wanted to go further. Read more

“The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 15 years, the youth unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 40 years… none of these results can be considered sufficient,” he said. declared.

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Macron said another key goal if re-elected will be to make France more self-sufficient, with proposals ranging from “massive” investment in agricultural and industrial independence to building more nuclear reactors and reinforcement of the army.

France could be one of the first countries to wean itself off fossil fuels, he said, while adding that he wanted to build a “European metaverse” to compete with American tech giants and make Europe more independent on this front as well.

The 44-year-old president, who is expected to face a far-right or conservative opponent in the second round, also said he would toughen law and order, including putting more police on the streets, tightening conditions required for a long time. -fixed-term residence permits and facilitating the expulsion of persons whose asylum application has been rejected.

Macron also said he was planning more grants for single mothers and tax breaks for people wanting to leave money for their grandchildren or nieces and nephews.

Opinion polls in recent weeks show Macron winning up to 31% of the vote in the first round, down from around 25% last month.

But even if he is re-elected, Macron will need his centrist La République en Marche (LaRem) party – which has failed in all recent local elections – and its allies to win legislative elections in June if he is to have a solid basis for implementing its policy.

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Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Tassilo Hummel, Richard Lough, Michel Rose, Christian Lowe, Benoit Van Overstraeten Writing by Ingrid Melander Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Frances Kerry

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