French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron on Thursday outlined an economic programme that includes corporate tax cuts and public sector redundancies, after facing increasing pressure to unveil a more detailed manifesto.
The former economy minister, who is one of the frontrunners in France’s two-stage presidential election this spring, also said he would stick to eurozone commitments to cut France’s budget deficit.
Macron has rallied wide support in recent weeks by promising to transcend old political divides and lead the country into the 21st century. But he had failed to outline any concrete policies until now.
The 39-year-old ex-banker told Les Echos newspaper in an interview Thursday that he would cut corporate taxes to 25 percent from the current 33.3 percent over the next five years.
He said he would also slash 120,000 government jobs over the same period.
“Unlike François Fillon, I don’t believe in a purge and in fixing the country against the people’s will,” Macron said, referring to his main conservative rival and the candidate for Les Républicains party.
Fillon has pledged to reduce the public sector headcount by 500,000 if elected president.
Some €60 billion in public spending would be cut over the next five years should he be elected – less than the €100 billion shock-and-awe plan advocated by Fillon but a more ambitious target than the ruling Socialists’ current plan.
“And unlike Benoît Hamon, I don’t accept defeat on the jobs front,” Macron added, in reference to the Socialist candidate.
In a country blighted by an unemployment rate of 10 percent, Macron said he would make cutting it his priority and said bringing it down to 7 percent by 2022 appeared “reasonable”.
In a gesture of goodwill towards Germany, the European Union’s paymaster and its strongest economy, Macron said he would seek to show he is carrying out reforms to gain Berlin’s trust rather than confront it over deficit cuts.
“France must carry out structural reforms: it’s good for us and will reassure our partners, and chiefly Germany,” he said. “If we don’t have a brave plan of structural reforms, the Germans won’t follow us.”
Having done that, he would seek to get the eurozone to increase its joint investment capacity and set up a common budget.
Macron, who has never held elected office, was given a boost this week after the influential centrist François Bayrou said he would not stand as a candidate and would back him instead.
The two men met in central Paris on Thursday, with Bayrou simply saying he was “here to help” Macron.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-02-23