1. Policy proposals of French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon

Policy proposals of French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon

The 62-year-old was voted candidate of the centre-right Les Republicains party on Sunday, beating off main challenger Alain Juppe, partial results show.

By: | Paris | Published: November 28, 2016 4:25 AM
A 62-year-old racing car enthusiast who lives in a Loire valley chateau, Francois Fillon promises radical reforms to France's regulation-encumbered economy, vowing to roll back the state and slash government's bloated costs. (AP/PTI) A 62-year-old racing car enthusiast who lives in a Loire valley chateau, Francois Fillon promises radical reforms to France’s regulation-encumbered economy, vowing to roll back the state and slash government’s bloated costs. (AP/PTI)

Here is what Fillon, a former prime minister who on Sunday won the conservatives’ nomination for next year’s presidential election, has said he will do if elected president of France in May.

The 62-year-old was voted candidate of the centre-right Les Republicains party on Sunday, beating off main challenger Alain Juppe, partial results show.

The backdrop is a jobless rate of 10 percent, weak economic growth, concern about the survival of a costly but valued welfare state, worries about globalisation, immigration, security and the threat of further deadly attacks by Islamist militants.

He proposes a supply-side economic strategy with cuts in public spending, loosening restrictions on the length of the working week, and raising the retirement age.

He is also a social conservative who wants to limit adoption rights of gay couples and he has called for warmer ties with Russia.

******ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT******

*35-HOUR WEEK:

Fillon proposes a return to a legal work week of 39 hours in the public and private sectors, up from the 35-hour week which since 2000 has obliged employers to pay higher rates or give time off for hours above the 35-hour mark.

Fillon says the 39-hour week would apply straight away in the public sector and that negotiated deals in the private sector can allow people to work up to an EU ceiling of 48 hours. He has suggested state workers be shifted to 39 hours paid 37.

*PUBLIC-SECTOR JOBS:

Fillon proposes trimming the headcount by 500,000. Some five million – or one in five of the workforce – are employed in the civil service, local government and public healthcare.

*PENSIONS/RETIREMENT AGE:

Fillon proposes raising the pensionable age of retirement to 65, from around 62-63 at the moment. He wants to end special early-retirement provisions for state workers.

*UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS:

Fillon proposes capping jobless benefits at 75 percent of wages before the job was lost, followed by gradual decreases

*PUBLIC FINANCES:

Fillon says he will cut public spending by 100 billion euros over five years.

Fillon targets a public-sector deficit of zero in 2022 from a start-point of 4.7 percent of GDP in 2017. His team says that high start-point factors in high launch costs of his proposed tax cuts and other policies that will bloat the deficit in 2017 and 2018. The current Socialist government is forecasting a deficit of just 2.7 percent in 2017 after 3.3 percent this year.

*TAXATION:

Fillon aims to cut taxes and welfare charges by 50 billion euros starting from the fourth quarter of 2017.

VAT sales tax: Fillon will raise Value Added Tax rates by two percentage points.

Wealth tax: Fillon proposes scrapping the ISF wealth tax, at a cost of 5 billion euros annually.

Company tax: Fillon would cut the corporate profit tax rate to 25 percent from an official 33.3 percent currently at a cost of 10 billion euros.

Household tax: Fillon has not made significant proposals for income tax, which in France is paid by only half of households and is less important than other welfare-funding taxes. He has proposed trimming taxation of income from capital.

*****SOCIETY AND WIDER WORLD*****

*SECURITY/COUNTER-TERRORISM:

Fillon proposes no rise in police numbers but advocates arming of municipal police (part of the police force that is not armed currently and deals primarily with things like local traffic management, parking and patrolling). He would also use private security firms for some police surveillance tasks.

*IMMIGRATION:

Fillon’s policy on immigration at a time of record influx to Europe of people fleeing war zones in the Middle East, Asia and Africa includes a proposed overhaul for Europe’s Schengen pact on external and internal border controls.

He also says Europe needs an external frontier police force.

He wants an annual quota for intake of immigrants to come under the control of parliament and be written into the French constitution.

*FAMILY:

Fillon says he would not end same-sex marriage as enshrined in a 2013 law despite personal reservations about that reform. He wants to limit gay couples’ adoption rights: the filiation link with birth parents would remain, whereas it would be cut in the case of adoption by a man-and-woman couple

The 2013 law allows gay parents get a new birth certificate with their names as parent as is the case for other adopting parents, cutting all legal ties between the child and birth parents.

*FOREIGN POLICY:

Fillon says that France, where foreign policy is mainly non-partisan, must reassert itself alongside the United States following the election of Donald Trump. He also wants closer ties with Moscow.

*SYRIA

Fillon advocates working with Russia and a more active engagement with Assad and Iran in the search for a solution to the conflict in Syria. He wants to reopen the French embassy in Damascus even if Assad cannot be part of Syria’s post-conflict scenario.

*EUROPE:

Fillon supports the European Union, in contrast to the anti-EU National Front party, and advocates stronger decision-making ties between euro zone countries.

He has been more cautious than his losing opponent Juppe on EU reform and further integration, having focused more narrowly on euro zone governance.

*RUSSIA:

Fillon espouses a stridently positive policy towards Russia, saying it is no threat, should be a partner in Syria and that European sanctions against Russia imposed after its annexation of Crimea should be lifted. (Reporting By Brian Love; Editing by Andrew Callus and Tom Heneghan)

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