French PM seeks to prove legitimacy and douse fires in first policy speech

In his first policy speech since being appointed three weeks ago, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal spent 90 minutes on Tuesday seeking to convince lawmakers of his ability to handle national crises at a time when farmer protests, rising living costs and immigration policy are piling pressure on the government.

It was a D-day of sorts for the 34-year-old head of government who rose to the top job in a cabinet reshuffle aimed at injecting new life into the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

Seeking to prove himself amid concerns over his age and relative inexperience, Attal tackled a range of priority issues that included agriculture, education, employment, security, national identity and immigration.

However the broad lines of the government's policy were already rolled out by Macron himself during a press event on 16 January.

Attal’s speech – coming at a time when farmer blockades around Paris are generating daily headlines – was a delicate balancing act in front of a parliament in which his party governs with a minority.

The far left France Unbowed party accused Attal of delivering the “most reactionary speech in a century”, while the rightwing Republicans criticised what they called “a catalogue of small measures” that were disconnected from the country’s real needs.

The main takeaways:

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