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Emmanuel Macron unveils policies as he seeks second presidential term

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By AP  with Euronews
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Emmanuel Macron has not held any rallies yet despite formally announcing his presidential candidacy.
Emmanuel Macron has not held any rallies yet despite formally announcing his presidential candidacy.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thibault Camus

French President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled his proposals to boost the national economy if he wins a second term at next month’s elections.

Macron also pledged to fight inequality and improve France’s reactions to global crises amid the war in Ukraine.

The French President held his major campaign event on Thursday to detail his vision for the next five years.

He vowed to push ahead with a controversial pension reform that would “progressively” raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 years. Under the new policy, French citizens who start working at a young age would still be able to retire before 65.

Boosting France's growth must go through "investing more" and "working more," Macron added, vowing to achieve "full employment."

The unemployment rate in France recently reached 7,4%, down from over 10% when he came into power in 2017.

Macron also promised to keep investing in the French military and fight inequalities at school and healthcare access.

"We are at a tipping point where we can make a real difference," Macron said, pledging to cut taxes by €15 million per year.

Asked about his campaign's motto, he said he wants the French to be "stronger and happier altogether."

Even though he formally announced he is running for a second term at the beginning of the month, Macron has not held any rallies and has been criticised by other candidates for refusing to participate in any televised debate before the first round of voting on April 10.

In recent days, Macron has pushed for a ceasefire in Ukraine during phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has spoken with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy on an almost daily basis.

On Thursday, Macron again slammed Putin and said he held a "disastrous responsibility" for his country.

Last week, he gathered EU leaders at the Versailles palace to discuss sanctions against Russia, and he is soon expected to speak with US President Joe Biden at NATO's summit in Brussels.

Polls see Macron about 10 percentage points ahead of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, placing them both in a position to reach the runoff and replay the 2017 election.

Another far-right candidate, Eric Zemmour, far-left figure Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and conservative Valérie Pécresse are among other challengers.

Rivals have accused Macron of focusing on Ukraine to avoid complex, domestic issues, including violent riots in the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

But supporters argue that the situation in Ukraine involves vital domestic issues that are being thoroughly debated in the campaign, like energy and defence policies.

Additional sources • AFP