French President Jacques Chirac and socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal have offered sharply differing views of France's future.

Mr. Chirac proposed corporate tax cuts, while Royal backed measures to ensure housing security.

The president, a conservative who is not expected to seek a third term in April polls, says France must face up to rapid-growing economies in countries like China and India. He proposed cutting corporate taxes from 33 to 20 percent over the next five years. He also said companies that share profits equally between shareholders and employees could benefit from a lower tax rate of 10 percent.

Royal used her New Year's greeting to address family issues, including the creation of a new fund to help people get off welfare and find jobs. She also proposed start-up loans for young people, and urged companies to help reduce high youth unemployment.

Voter surveys show Royal leading in the race to succeed the 74-year-old president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.