Emmanuel Macron blasted by figures across political spectrum over ‘attack on unemployed’

The French President has faced opposition for his plan to slash benefits for the jobless in half if they refuse “reasonable” job offers and annul them for two months in cases of repeated refusals.

National Front spokesman Jordan Bardella said that the law would create an atmosphere of “widespread suspicion” and make law-abiding citizens “victims of mass unemployment”.

He argued that Mr Macron’s proposal should be adjusted to instead focus on “notorious fraudsters”.

Alexis Corbiere, spokesman for France Insoumise, which is led by former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, tweeted: “This is unacceptable! The fight against the unemployed is not the fight against unemployment.”

France’s Socialist Party (PS) tweeted: “The PS asks the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister not to give Pierre #Gattaz the role of the ‘social’ adviser of the government.”

Éric Coquere, a French MP representing France Insoumise, said: “Emmanuel Macron continues the MEDEF’s roadmap in which the unemployed are [deemed] responsible for unemployment.”

However, Mr Macron has denied the suggestion that his proposal paints people who receive state benefits as fraudsters.

In defence of the measure, Mr Macron said: “If there are no rules, things cannot move ahead. That doesn’t mean that we’ll chase everyone.”

He added: “These rules were announced during the campaign. And as always, we do what we said. I said it and we will do it.”

Mr Macron also noted that his government intends to put $15billion (£13.3billion) into training programmes for the unemployed.

He argued that there is “nothing shocking” in his proposal and said it is “normal” that “the few” who abuse the French scheme of allowances are controlled.

The measure is set to be debated on January 11, 2018.

Mr Macron’s words come after he decided not to budge on labour code reform despite opposition earlier this year.

The reforms designed to loosen labour regulations and drive down unemployment are a key part of the young centrist’s drive to re-shape and re-boot France’s sluggish economy.

In September, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told the French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche: “The labour code reform is to go ahead as planned. The new rules won’t and cannot be changed,”

“To those of you who are vehemently opposed to the labour law reform and who are fuelling public dissent, let me ask you this: do you have a better idea?”

France’s unemployment rate stands at 9.6 per cent and is two points above the European average of 7.8 per cent.


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