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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Macron v Le Pen: What are their policies for foreigners in France?

As Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen prepare for a second round battle, we look at their policies for foreigners living in France, and for those hoping to move here.

Macron v Le Pen: What are their policies for foreigners in France?
Getting a carte de sejour could become harder, depending on who wins the election. Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP

Macron

The centrist candidate is pro European and has been keen to attract foreign investment to France – his government has run English-language advertising campaigns to attract foreign workers and businesses to France, and has expanded the Talent visa programme.

After the Brexit vote he sent a message to Brits in France, telling them they would always be welcome.

However, faced with challengers on the far-right, his 2022 campaign manifesto is less liberal on immigration.

Some of his policies have little detail on how exactly they would work.

Among the measures he has proposed are:

  • Giving long-term residency cards (10 years) only to those who have passed a French exam AND have a job – he does not specify what level of French would be needed to pass the exam;
  • Reforming the Schengen zone to make it harder to get into Europe;
  • Reinforcing the French border force;
  • Expelling foreigners who have “upset the public order” – no detail on whether this refers to all criminal offences or only those convicted of serious crimes
  • Reforming the asylum process to make it easier to decide who can stay and “to expel more efficiently” those who cannot. 

Le Pen

Anti-immigration policies have been the hallmark of Le Pen’s party since it was founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Since taking over the party, renaming it Rassemblement National and generally trying to ‘detoxify’ it, Marine has been trying to expand her policies – this election campaign has seen her focus heavily on the cost-of-living crisis.

However, her rhetoric remains strongly anti-immigration. She is also strongly anti-EU and although she has dropped her policy of ‘Frexit’, she says that if elected she would refuse to obey EU rules or follow financial contributions – effectively exiting the EU by stealth.

Here’s what her manifesto proposes on immigration:

  • End all non-economic immigration, so that people could only move to France to work;
  • End immigration for family reunification purposes;
  • Treat all requests for asylum overseas. 

But the meat of her policy lies in making life harder for migrants who are already in France:

  • Reserve social aid for French people and condition access to other state benefits on having worked in France for five years;
  • Give French people priority in social housing and employment;
  • Take away visas/residency cards of all foreigners who have been out of work for one year in France;
  • Systematically expel illegal immigrants, delinquents and foreign criminals;
  • Get rid of jus soli (the right to citizenship through birth in France);
  • Allow French citizenship only to people who have “earned it and assimilated” – although she gives no detail on how this would be different to the current process, which already requires a French test and an interview on French culture for those applying through residency or marriage.  
The pair face each other in a live TV debate on April 20th, and then in a second round of voting on April 24th. 

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ENERGY

Macron: ‘Don’t panic’ over risk of power cuts in France this winter

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday called growing fears of winter electricity outages overblown, even as authorities prepare for possible targeted power cuts if consumption is not reduced and cold snaps strain the grid.

Macron: 'Don't panic' over risk of power cuts in France this winter

France’s network is under pressure as state power company EDF races to restart dozens of nuclear reactors taken down for maintenance or safety work that has proved more challenging than originally thought.

Reduced gas exports from Russia as it cuts supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine war have added to worries that gas-burning power plants might have to trim production.

“Stop it — we’re a major power, we have a great energy system, and we’re going to get through this winter despite the war,” Macron told reporters ahead of an EU/Balkans summit in Tirana, Albania.

“This debate is absurd, the role of the public authorities is not to breed fear,” he added.

OPINION France faces the real risk of power cuts this winter, and it cannot blame Putin

Macron had already urged people “not to panic” over the weekend, saying power cuts could be avoided if overall usage this winter was reduced by 10 percent.

But last week the government told local officials to begin preparing contingency plans in case targeted cuts were needed, possibly including closing schools until midday.

France is usually one of Europe’s largest electricity exporters thanks to its network of 56 nuclear reactors, which supply around 70 percent of its electricity needs.

But this winter it will be a major importer of power from Britain, Germany, Spain and other neighbouring countries, grid operator RTE said last week.

READ ALSO Schools, hospitals and trains – how France plans to deal with blackouts this winter

RTE’s chief Xavier Piechaczyk told Franceinfo radio that the risk of power cuts could not be excluded, “but it will essentially depend on the weather.”

Normally France’s 56 nuclear reactors can produce 61 gigawatts but with around half of the fleet offline, just 43 gigawatts are expected to be available by the end-January, he said.

And while France has the capacity to import up to 15 gigawatts, winter usage can surge to 90 gigawatts at peak hours, prompting the calls for energy “restraint” such as lowering thermostats and using washing machines and other appliances at night.

“Rule number one is that nothing is inevitable… Together we have the capacity to avoid any risk of cuts, no matter how the winter turns out,” government spokesman Olivier Veran told France 2 television on Tuesday.

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