Wednesday 18 September 2019

Macron promises 'significant' tax cuts in his 'moment of truth'

Emmanuel Macron (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Emmanuel Macron (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Henry Samuel

Emmanuel Macron has promised "significant" tax cuts for France's middle classes and cuts in public spending, but told the French they must work like their "neighbours", in a much-awaited response to five months of "yellow vest" protests.

In what the French media dubbed his "moment of truth", the 41-year old centrist promised a "new act in our Republic" during a marathon 140-minute press conference at the Élysée Palace - his first since his election - in which he confessed his way of running the country had lacked "humanity".

After enacting a whirlwind set of reforms, notably loosening labour laws, the president has been on the back foot since he was blindsided by nationwide protests, initially over fuel tax rises, which morphed into wider anger at the inability of provincial France to make ends meet. Much of the fury was directed towards Mr Macron, seen as an arrogant "president of the rich".

"We must work more, I've said it before. France works much less than its neighbours. We need to have a real debate on this," Mr Macron said.

He confirmed leaked plans to scrap the ENA, the country's most prestigious university, saying it failed to reflect a cross-section of society. He stood firm on cuts he made to a wealth tax, saying it would be reviewed in 2020.

It has been reported his wife Brigitte is to return to the classroom to teach adults who left school without qualifications.

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