| 28 May 2024, Tuesday |

France unveils pension overhaul in test for Macron

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne outlined an unpopular pension reform that risks strikes and would test President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to enact change as she suggested that the French should put in two more years of work before they are eligible to retire.

According to an Odoxa poll, four out of every five individuals oppose the overhaul’s decision to raise the retirement age to 64 at a time when many people are already experiencing a crisis related to the expense of living.

“I’m well aware that changing our pension system raises questions and fears among the French,” Borne said on Tuesday, adding that her government would work on convincing the French that the reform was necessary.

“We offer today a project to balance our pension system, a project that is fair,” she said.

Overhauling the pension system was a central pillar of Macron’s reformist agenda when he entered the Elysee Palace in 2017. But he shelved his first attempt in 2020 as the government battled to contain the COVID outbreak.

The second attempt will not be any easier.

The heads of France’s leading unions will meet in the evening to discuss responding with protests and strikes.

Macron and Borne will also need to get the reform adopted in parliament, where they do not have an absolute majority.

That looks somewhat less challenging than it did a few weeks ago after the government made some concessions to the conservative Les Republicains (LR) party. Even so, LR is not united on the issue and every vote will count.

With one of the lowest retirement ages in the industrialised world, France spends more than most other countries on pensions at nearly 14% of economic output, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

  • Reuters