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‘Humble’ Macron responds to critics in Versailles palace address
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses of a special congress gathering both houses of Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) at the congress hemicycle room in the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris, on July 9, 2018. The French President will gather French Parliament at the opulent Versailles Palace today for what has become an annual address on his plans for overhauling wide swathes of French society and institutions. / AFP PHOTO / ludovic MARIN

‘Humble’ Macron responds to critics in Versailles palace address

French: Seen by critics as arrogant and uncaring, French President Emmanuel Macron struck a humble note Monday while defending his pro-business approach in his annual address to both houses of parliament.
The 40-year-old centrist, elected in May last year, has started a tradition of making a once-a-year speech at the opulent Palace of Versailles, a French. equivalent of the State of the Union speech in the United States.

Macron began with a nod to critics of his leadership style that has seen him attacked by his opponents as monarchical, and even led to misgivings in
his own party about the concentration of powers in the presidential palace.

“I know I can’t do everything, I know that I can’t succeed with everything,” he told the 900 lawmakers, adding that he was in front of them feeling “humble, but resolute”.

In a speech that was focused mostly on France and contained few detailed policy announcements, Macron stressed that he would not lower his sights.

“The president has an obligation to aim high, and I do not intend to fail with this obligation,” he added.

Over 90 minutes, he detailed his early legislative successes including corporate tax cuts, an easing of labour laws, reforms to university entrance procedures and a revamp of state rail operator SNCF.

He also defended his focus on cutting taxes and improving France’s business environment — which has seen him dubbed “president of the rich” by his domestic opponents on the left.

“Policies that help companies are not for the wealthy. They are policies for the entire nation, policies that add jobs,” he said.