Depardieu, immigration: key points of President Macron’s TV interview

He spoke for two hours on French television after MPs passed his government’s immigration bill

Mr Macron touched on many subjects in the two hour interview, including immigration, school bullying and Gérard Depardieu
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President Macron spoke to French television for two hours after his immigration bill went through parliament on Tuesday (December 19). We look at the key points made in the wide ranging interview.

Almost 3 million people tuned in to watch Mr Macron speak on the C à vous programme following the success of his embattled immigration bill in parliament.

Read more: Automatic visa for easy second-home visits passed by French parliament

Mr Macron appeared relaxed and at times in good humour during the two hour interview, during which he touched on Gaza, immigration, school bullying, the Paris Olympic Games and Gérard Depardieu.

We look at the main points.

On the immigration law

The President said it was a “useful law” that had been undeservedly blocked by MPs due to certain inclusions, such as stipulations limiting the access of undocumented migrants to the aide médicale d’état healthcare scheme.

Mr Macron was presumably referring to the more controversial parts of the bill, such as those pertaining to the citizenship rights of children born in France to foreign nationals.

He called the new law a "shield that we were missing".

Mr Macron did not mention the new automatic visa for easy second-home visits, which was included in the law.

Read more: What happens next for law to ease second-home visits to France?

On the far-right Rassemblement Nationale

Mr Macron said the new law was a “defeat” for the Rassemblement Nationale, despite Marine Le Pen calling it an “ideological victory” and supporting the law along with her party.

For the President, it is “not true” that the law contains far-right elements. He added that it should help stem the flow of problems that “feed” the growth of the Rassemblement Nationale.

On laicité

The President recently drew criticism when he invited France’s top rabbi during Hanukkah and lit candles with him at the Presidential Elysee palace.

The invitation followed a string of anti-semitic attacks in France.

Many of Mr Macron’s detractors said that this openly religious display was against the French principle of laicité.

However, Mr Macron denied this: “I lit a candle of remembrance that was not of religious nature.”

Read more: Laïcité: a bedrock of modern France

On Gaza

Mr Macron argued that France was one of the only Western countries to take a balanced position in the Middle East.

“Initially it was certainly Hamas’ fault,” he said, calling nonetheless for Israel to cease its assault on the Gaza strip.

On inflation

The President said that prices “will stop rising soon”, although he conceded that they are also “unlikely to return to their previous levels”.

He added that half of French people had been protected from the rising prices due to increases in pensions and the minimum wage (SMIC).

Forecasts from La Banque de France project year-on-year inflation to fall to 2% for 2025/26

On the Paris Olympic Games

“Everything has been put in place to ensure that the country is prepared,” said Mr Macron.

However he added that there is a “Plan B” in case a terrorist attack or disruption during the games makes the centre of Paris unviable.

Read more: Flights, cars, metro: How Paris 2024 Olympics will affect travel

On Gérard Depardieu

The French actor has been at the centre of another wave of controversy due to comments he made during a documentary, Complément d'Enquête, filmed in North Korea.

The comments led Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak to announce a disciplinary procedure against the actor in order to strip him of his Légion d’Honneur.

However, Mr Macron chose to rein in his Minister.

"I am a great admirer of Depardieu, he is a great actor, a complete genius of his craft who has carried the name of France with him throughout the world.

"He makes France proud", said Mr Macron, adding that "sometimes he goes too far".

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