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From tax cuts to plastics ban: French PM reveals list of reforms for 'Act II' of Macron's presidency

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From tax cuts to plastics ban: French PM reveals list of reforms for 'Act II' of Macron's presidency
Photo: AFP
17:20 CEST+02:00
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe laid out on Wednesday the government's agenda for Act II of the current presidential term, highlighting the importance of the green agenda and tax cuts. Here's a look at the main reforms he laid out.
In a speech on Wednesday, Philippe set out the agenda for the government's planned reforms for the next 12 months in what is already set to be a packed parliamentary calendar. 
 
"Our road map is clear for the coming year, it is dense, we want to reconcile France with itself, our country needs unity and respect," he said.
 
Here's a look at what's on the horizon. 
 
Environment 
 
The prime minister made it clear that the environment will be high on the list of priorities for the government over the coming months. 
 
"The next 12 months will be dedicated to accelerating the environmental agenda," he said, adding that this would be achieved by "making our economy cleaner", "cutting out waste" and "producing and eating better food".
 
Among the plans to make the "economy cleaner" were closing France's oldest nuclear plant Fessenheim and passing a bill on energy and climate. 
 
France to close oldest nuclear plant (much to relief of the Swiss and the Germans)Photo: AFP
 
The prime minister also said the government would take steps to ban plastic packaging that cannot be recycled to cut down on waste and that there would be a national goal to promote health and sports, and fight obesity.
 
Philippe also announced his intention to reform the CITE tax credit (crédit d'impôt pour la transition énergétique). 
 
At the moment, if you have carried out energy-saving building work such as roof insulation or installing a heat pump in your family home, you can claim a tax credit of up to 30 percent as long as the work has been carried out by a professional tradesman. 
 
Employment
 
The prime minister stressed that on top of positive environmental policies 'Act 2' would be all about improving life for the French. 
 
"We need to reform unemployment insurance," said Philippe, adding that the plan for doing so will be presented on June 18th.
 
"We will put an end to abuse of short-term contracts," he said. 
 
This is not the first time the government has announced its intention to fight short contracts but French employers aren't happy about it. For example, restaurants and hotels have said they need to have these short contracts because their business fluctuates.
 
All you need to know about the unemployment benefits you can claim in France Photo: AFP
 
Gay rights
 
The bio-ethics bill, which includes the right to "medically assisted procreation" (known as "PMA" in France) to all women, including lesbians is set to be adopted by the government in late July and could be debated in Parliament by the end of September.
 
Taxes 
 
Philippe said that the government had received the message that the French are suffering from tax fatigue - one of the messages of the anti-government Gilets Jaunes movement - "loud and clear". 
 
He confirmed that council tax (taxe d'habitation) will be completely abolished on primary residences for all French people.
 
"In total, household taxes will fall by 27 billion euros during this five-year period," he said, adding that the drop in income tax announced by President Emmanuel Macron in April, will focus on "the working middle class."
 
"The first drop in income tax will see an average household gain of €350," he said. "The five million households included in the second drop will benefit from an average gain of €180." 
 
These tax cuts are set to be voted through as part of the 2020 finance bill.
 
No fuel taxes or Macron's head: What do the 'yellow vests' actually want? Photo: AFP
 
Retirement 
 
One part of the prime minister's speech that will surely be less popular among the French was the discussion of increasing the retirement age.
 
"We must work longer: we will maintain the possibility of leaving work at 62," he said, adding that nevertheless the government would introduce incentives to encourage people to work longer. 
 
"Already, the average age of retirement is above the legal age of retirement," he said.
 
According to statistics published by an insurance fund for older people, the average age of retirement was 62 years, 8 months and two weeks in 2018.
 
Single parent families
 
The prime minister also said the government would look to improve the lives of single parent families after the issue was frequently raised during the course of the "Grand Debat" - Macron's answer to the 'yellow vest' protests. 
 
Philippe announced the creation of a "single family information service" in 2020, which will enable parents to "know in real time the availability of crèches and childminders available".
 
He also said that from June 2020, there would be a "new system to protect single people against the risk of unpaid child support payments." 
 
Paris parents warned over possible health risks at 30 creches built on polluted groundPhoto: AFP
 
Immigration
 
In his speech, Philippe confirmed his desire to "control" immigration, which he said is up by 22 percent, adding that there was a need to "take a firm stand against the abuse of the system" for asylum seekers. 
 
Muslim worship
 
The prime minister raised in his speech the possibility of reforming the way the Muslim faith is organised in France, something which has previously been raised by Macron. 
 
Philippe on Wednesday confirmed his desire to "recruit and train imams in France, who speak French ".
 
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Boggy - 13 Jun 2019 07:29
Abolish taxe d'habitation but increase the tax on electricity?
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