The government of President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled the details of a long-awaited reform of France’s pension system. Among other things, it provides for raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. However, if the cabinet pushes through the reform, massive protests are expected across the country.
“2023 will indeed be a year of pension reform designed to guarantee the balance of our system in the coming years and decades,” Macron said in his New Year’s address. A change in the law, due to which the government promises to increase the number of working pensioners, should come into force from the end of this summer. The Elysee Palace insists on the need to modify the existing system.
France annually spends about a quarter of the state budget on pensions. Although this is a smaller share than, for example, the Czech Republic or Italy spend on their pensioners, for example, in the UK, which has the same population as France, pension spending is only 13.7 percent.
The French economy is already on the verge of an economic recession. In addition, public finances there have been significantly drained by the recent pandemic and measures related to inflation and high energy prices. In addition, Macron is planning large-scale investments in the green transformation of industry.
September assessment of pensions in the Czech Republic:
The problem, however, is that most French people are against raising the retirement age. According to a survey conducted by Elabe in early January, 47 percent of citizens are in favor of maintaining the current age limit, and another 25 percent would even like to lower it.
French unions also don’t want to hear about any increase in the voting age, arguing that the change will hit people in unskilled jobs and on low incomes the hardest. They usually start working at a younger age than their more affluent and educated peers and thus invest in the pension system longer.
Even moderate trade unionists have vowed to prepare for large-scale strikes and demonstrations if the government gives the green light to reform. “If you are Elizabeth Bourne (Prime Minister of France – note ed.) will continue to think that raising the age of majority is the right reform, we will do our best to force the government to back down. We will use all the means at our disposal for this,” Laurent Bergé, head of the French trade union organization CFDT, told Le Parisien on Saturday.
Another difficulty for Macron is the fact that his Spolu coalition has not had a majority in the National Assembly since last year’s parliamentary elections. For example, opposition Republicans have made it clear that they will support the reform, but demand that the increase in the age limit be smaller and at the same time increase the size of the minimum pension. “We want a reform that is not so violent, a reform that is just,” said Republican Party chairman Eric Ciotti.
Bloomberg recalls that the French political system allows the president to push through some laws even without parliamentary approval, a rule that the Macron cabinet has used in the past to approve the budget. However, such a move could further anger the protesting residents. According to the agency, Macron’s coalition will not face easy negotiations in the National Assembly.