PARIS (Reuters) - France’s far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen has spelled out her policy plans in a manifesto of 144 proposals which include leaving the euro currency and holding a vote on European Union membership.
Here are her main proposals for the presidential election to be held on April 23 and May 7. If elected president, Le Pen would also have to win parliamentary elections in June to be able to carry out most of her plans.
SIX MONTHS TO RENEGOTIATE THE EU OR GO FOR “FREXIT”
* Election to be immediately followed by six months of talks with EU partners to radically change France’s membership and turn the bloc into a loose cooperative of countries: no more euro, border-free area, EU budget rules or pre-eminence of EU law.
* Referendum on EU membership at the end of six months. Le Pen to recommend leaving if she does not manage to radically change the bloc from the inside, so most likely scenario is “Frexit.” She has said she would resign if she asks voters to leave the EU and they vote otherwise.
* The manifesto gives no details on an exit from the euro currency -- which it says would mean regaining France’s monetary “sovereignty.” Le Pen has said this should be discussed at the end of the EU talks, after Germany’s parliamentary elections in September. She says she will ditch the euro only if voters agree to do so in the referendum.
* A top FN official says the move would go together with re-denominating the debt stock in the new currency, having the central bank defend the new currency and giving the government the right to order the central bank to buy its bonds.
* Would be accompanied by some form of loose monetary cooperation which would, among other things, be able to manage exchange rate fluctuations.
* Le Pen said that, without waiting for the outcome of EU negotiations, she would immediately suspend France’s membership of the Schengen border-free area and put back passport checks at its borders with its EU neighbors.
* Among 10 reforms she would carry out within her first two months in power are:
- expulsion of all foreigners being monitored by intelligence services
- stripping dual citizens of their French nationality when convicted of links with jihadism
- cutting the lower three income tax brackets by 10 percent
- denying free access to basic healthcare to illegal migrants.
PROTECTIONISM AND “NATIONAL PREFERENCE”
* Public procurement to be open only to French firms as long as the price difference is not too large.
* “Intelligent protectionism” includes a 3 percent tax on imports.
* Reject international trade treaties.
* Reserve certain rights now available to all residents, including free education, to French citizens only, which would be put to voters via referendum.
* Employers who hire foreigners would pay an extra tax. It would be worth 10 percent of the salary, Le Pen’s deputy Florian Philippot said.
* Hire 15,000 police, build jails to make room for another 40,000 inmates.
* Automatically expel foreigners who have been convicted.
* Leave NATO’s integrated military command, boost defense spending.
* Make it impossible for illegal migrants to legalize their stay in France.
* Curb asylum for requests made abroad in French consulates.
* Make it much harder to become a French citizen. Being born in France would not confer right to citizenship anymore.
* Curb migration to a net 10,000 people per year.
* Allow referendums to be organized on issues called for by 500,000 citizens.
* Cut the number of parliamentarians by nearly half.
* Targets GDP growth of 2 percent in 2018, well above the Bank of France’s 1.4 percent forecast.
The FN sees GDP growth at 2.5 percent per year by the end of the five-year mandate. Sees inflation at 2.5 percent in 2020.
* Says to cut taxes for households and increase welfare benefits. Budget hole to be plugged by savings from effectively fighting social security fraud and tax evasion, changes in EU policy, new migration policy and administrative reform.
* Sees the public deficit at 4.5 percent of GDP in 2018, down to 1.3 percent at the end of the mandate in 2022. Says debt to be cut to 89 percent of GDP by 2022.
* Cut payroll tax for very small and medium-sized businesses and lower the corporate tax rate for them.
* Lower retirement age to 60 from the present 62, increase aid to the very poor elderly. Give child benefits to all without conditions. Cut by 5 percent the regulated price of gas and electricity.
* Keep the working week to 35 hours, make overtime tax-free.
Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Balmforth