PARIS (Reuters) - Here are some of the key points in the programme of Francois Fillon, the conservative Republicans candidate for France’s presidential election on April 23 and May 7.
The former prime minister 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.
Ending the 35-hour week:
Fillon proposes a return to a legal working 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.
Public sector jobs:
Fillon proposes cutting the headcount by 500,000 by not replacing all retiring civil servants and increasing the working week to 39 hours.
Some five million - or one in five of the workforce - are employed in the civil service, local government and public healthcare.
Fillon proposes raising the pensionable age of retirement to 65, from 62 at the moment. He wants to end special early-retirement provisions for state workers.
Fillon proposes capping jobless benefits at 75 percent of wages at the moment of job termination, followed by gradual decreases.
Fillon says he will slash public spending by 100 billion euros over five years with the aim of cutting public spending from 57 percent of GDP currently to less than 50 percent by 2022.
Fillon targets a public-sector deficit of zero in 2022 from a start-point of 3.7 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 3.4 percent last year.
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.
Fillon proposes increasing police and gendarme numbers by a total of 10,000 and raise the number of prison beds by 16,000.
He would also strip all French people who fight abroad for jihadist groups of their French citizenship and ban them from returning to France.
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.
Fillon says he would not end same-sex marriage as enshrined in a 2013 law despite his 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 to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Richard Balmforth