French President Emmanuel Macron listens during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 5, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policy is viewed as favoring the rich and must change to address inequalities, according to a memo written by three economists who worked on his campaign program, Le Monde newspaper said on Saturday.
The criticism is the latest sign of the trouble created by Macron’s economic reforms among the center-left supporters who propelled him to power last year.
In the confidential memo sent to Macron and plastered across Le Monde’s front page, the economists said his policy was failing to convince “even the most ardent supporters”.
“Many supporters of the then-candidate express their fear of a lurch to the right motivated by the temptation to steal the political space left vacant by a struggling conservative party,” the economists wrote.
Jean Pisani-Ferry, the Sciences Po Paris university professor who coordinated Macron’s economic program and is an influential voice in Franco-German academic circles, is one of the authors. He declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
The other two, Philippe Martin, a former Macron adviser who heads France’s Council of Economic Analysis (CAE), and Philippe Aghion of the elite College de France, did not return Reuters’ requests for comment.
Macron, who campaigned on a promise to be “neither left nor right”, moved swiftly in his first year to loosen labor rules and slash a wealth tax, earning himself the nickname “president of the rich”.
The economists said there was a risk the French would find these measures unfair and think the government is deaf to the needs of the poorest in society.
“The president must talk about the issue of inequalities and not leave this debate to his opponents,” the economists wrote.
Among proposals to reduce inequalities, the economists suggested a rise in inheritance tax for the richest, scrapping tax credits on property investments, and cancelling Macron’s promise to abolish a housing tax for the wealthiest 20 percent.
Macron’s office confirmed it had received the note, but said it did not foretell government policy.
Macron is currently in Canada with other Group of Seven leaders, locked in a battle over trade tariffs with US President Donald Trump.