His rival Marine Le Pen has offered a hardline campaign, promising to protect citizens from “illegals” and restore “do more to stem the flow of migrants and refugees pouring into France”.
Under the current EU system visaless travel through 26 states across continental Europe, which many have blamed for allowing the spread of Islamic terror after a spate of attacks.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Macron, who is the bookmakers’ favourite to become president, claimed he would back the continued free movement of people across France’s borders.
Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron refused to get tough on Schengen despite French scepticism
I want to be very strict but I don’t want to kill Schengen
“I think we have to improve Schengen,” he said. “Improving something is not killing it.
“I don’t want to suspend it, I think Schengen is foreign frontiers and you can intervene whenever you want inside these frontiers in order to protect your people.
“It is not national borders, which is totally different. I think Schengen is a good system if you precisely implement actual and efficient organisation to have your own safeguards and policemen at these frontiers.”
Mr Macron proposed he would ensure that borders were closely monitored by creating “thousands of jobs” for the police force across the Schengen area.
He focused his reinforcement efforts around Greece and Italy, two nations who have suffered from migrants crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas in a bid to come to mainland Europe.
He added: “I want to be very strict but I don’t want to kill Schengen because the day after we restore national boundaries – which is totally inefficient for migration and tourism.”
Mr Macron’s views will likely be met with scepticism by French citizens after studies into “fear in the EU” shows a definitive loss of trust in the bloc.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
British think tank Demos surveyed six countries, including France, where it found a high of 82 per cent of the French population do not trust EU institutions, who enforce the Schengen area.
Scepticism hangs over the nation, with 81 per cent of those surveyed believing there will be another major terror attack in the country in the next six months following seven over the past two years, according to the report.
Migrants clash with police across Europe Wed, February 15, 2017
Migrants clash with each other in over crowded camps across Europe.
Play slideshow EPA 1 of 107
Moroccan Police look at immigrants trying to jump the six-meter-high fence in Ceuta, Spanish enclave on the north of Africa, 09 December 2016.
Socialist France, one of the six founding members of the EU, has seen a distinct rise in right-wing politics highlighted by more than one in two French people in the survey suggesting a “fascist or extreme right political [will win an election] in the next ten years”.
Launching her campaign, Ms Le Pen announced 144 “commitments” during a rally in Lyon.
The proposals included leaving the eurozone, holding a referendum on EU membership, slapping taxes on imports and on the job contracts of foreigners, lowering the retirement age and increasing several welfare benefits while lowering income tax.
The manifesto also foresees reserving certain rights to French citizens only, including free education, hiring 15,000 police, curbing migration and leaving Nato’s integrated command.
- Marine Le Pen BLASTS Italy for bowing down to EU over migrant crisis
- Merkel rival takes aim at EU's failed Schengen amid migrant crisis
- German politician slaps down BBC host for criticising burka ban calls