'Income tax cuts and end of year bonuses': What Macron's got in store for France

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'Income tax cuts and end of year bonuses': What Macron's got in store for France
Will the measures quell yellow vest anger? Photo: AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil his long-awaited response to nearly six months of humiliating street protests on Thursday. But most of the reforms are already known after leaks to the press. Here's a look at his main measures.


Macron swept to power in 2017 on hopes he would be a youthful breath of fresh air for France.
But over the past six months, the momentum has been thoroughly knocked out of his presidency following the emergence of the anti-government "yellow vest" 
movement which has held weekly protests against social inequality.
Thursday evening's address, scheduled for 4pm GMT, will see Macron holding his first-ever full domestic news conference at which he will outline a series of reforms drawn up after a vast listening exercise launched in response to the protests.
He is expected to announce a series of important but not revolutionary measures, including tax cuts for the middle classes and the re-evaluation of small pensions -- both of which were among the demands of the yellow vest protesters.
But most of the reforms are already known after leaks to the press. Here's a look at them.


Emmanuel Macron has laid out his ideas. Photo: AFP

Income tax cuts

The heavy burden of tax in France has been the number one complaint from 'yellow vests' and France does have one of the highest tax rates in the world.

Macron proposes a tax cut for the middle classes, which may not entirely defuse anger.

He intends to fund this giveaway of the middle classes by correcting 'certain tax niches'.

However he doesn't plan to reintroduce the wealth tax, one of the key demands of many yellow vest protesters. The wealth tax (ISF) which is now only levied on property riches rather than money will be evaluated however and may be changed.

End of year bonuses

Macron announced an end of year bonus for low paid workers before Christmas as part of his raft of measures to quell the violence. According to the leaked speech the president wants to make them a permanent fixture.

Pensions boost

Pensioners have also been particularly vocal, especially over fears of a raise in the pension age. Macron has already ruled out raising the pension age from its current level of 62. The leaked paper suggests reindexing pensions of less than €2,000.

"I know all the misunderstandings there have been on the subject of pensions in these two years. I regret that. I want consideration for retirees to translate into trust and clear rules. Pensions of less than €2,000 will be reindexed on inflation as of January 1," the president will say.

No more school and hospital closures by 2022

He pledged to end closure of local facilities, unless the local mayors suggest it. He was acting on the feeling in many rural communities that they are being abandoned and are slowly losing all local services.

He added that he wanted "more civil servants on the ground, with more responsibilities", "and fewer civil servants in Paris to write standards or create rules".

Photo: AFP

More referendums

Not put off by Britain's example, Macron says he is favour of holding more votes on certain local issues, as called for by 'yellow vest' protesters who said that the national government is too remote from the people and their concerns.

However, the draft speech warned that implementing this could be complicated.

The French constitution already allows for shared referendum initiatives (RIP) if 185 lawmakers back it as well as 10 percent of France's elected officials. Macron is keen to encourage the use of these initiatives that are not often put into action.

Less MPs more PR

Macron has vowed to push ahead with his election promise to cut the number of MPs and increase the proportion of proportional representation in elections.

Abolition of the elite École Nationale d'Administration

Widely seen as a breeding ground for the elite, the ENA is the training system for top French civil servants and politicians. Macron's paper says that he is in favour of making the selection process more democratic.

The leaked paper has him as saying he wants to give "all our young people their opportunities based solely on their merit and not on their social or family origin."

There was no official comment from the Elysées Palace on the leaked document, and whether these will prove enough to quell the anger that has swept through France remains to be seen.

Macron's TV address at 8pm should reveal more about these measures.



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