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Emmanuel Macron wants to bring the retirement age to 64 years and the unions called for massive mobilizations

Emmanuel Macron puts his transformative spirit at stake, with a new pension project (reuters)
Emmanuel Macron puts his transformative spirit at stake, with a new pension project (reuters)

It is not possible to be sure if it will be the end of several months of debate or the beginning of massive mobilizations of rejection in all the streets of France. On the contrary, it could incite to exacerbate the discussions and the general repudiation of an initiative that never caught on among the French should be added.

With the presentation of the First minister, Elizabeth Borneof the contours of the pension reform, the Government Macron’s advances on one of the main promises to materialize during its second five-year period. Emmanuel Macron he puts his entire political wealth at stake to see if that transformative spirit with which he arrived at the Élysée Palace will prevail.

“This presentation is not an end point, we are ready to continue developing our project.” In this way, Borne detailed his Government’s project to reform the pension system, a text that must now be presented in the Minister council on January 23, then examined in the Chamber from February 6, so that it enters into force before the end of the summer.

According to the Government’s plans, the project should reach the National Assembly with prior parliamentary agreement to avoid having to resort to article 49.3 of the Constitution, a rule similar to enacting a law by decree. The pact with The Republicans (LR), in order to reach the majority, is indifferent to the fact that a complex is unleashed clash with unionswho already show a united front against the initiative.

The Head of Government, accompanied by the Ministers of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, and Labor, Olivier Dussopt, clarified the government’s options regarding the legal retirement age, set at 64, compared to 62 today and 65 mentioned in the original project of the Executive. The rate of increase in the duration of contributions and early exit plans for French people who started working early are also an important issue of the reform.

“We suggest that those who can work progressively longer,” Borne said. “Starting September 1, the retirement age will be gradually raised three months per year to reach 64 by 2030.” To benefit from a full pension, you must have worked 43 years as of 2027.

In the memory is Macron’s campaign promise. When he was a candidate, the current Élysée tenant wanted the legal age of departure to be pushed back four months a year to 65 in 2031. The combined formula of a postponement of the age of departure to 64 along with an acceleration that lengthens the contribution period was finally favored by the Executive, achieving a presumed higher degree of acceptance.

After the presentation, the eight main unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, UNSA, FSU and Solidaires) announced a day of mobilization (Reuters)
After the presentation, the eight main unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, UNSA, FSU and Solidaires) announced a day of mobilization (Reuters)

For the Government, these announcements are also the beginning of hard confrontations advanced by the trade union front, which threatened to call the French to take to the streets at the end of January. Immediately after the presentation, the eight main unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, UNSA, FSU and Solidaires) announced, after a meeting in Paris, a day of mobilization against the project to reform the government’s pension system on Thursday, January 19.

This protest should “kick off a powerful mobilization on long-term pensions,” these employee unions said in a joint press release. “The pay-as-you-go pension system is not in danger, nothing justifies such a brutal reform,” he said. laurent berger, CFDT general secretaryon behalf of the inter-union.

To base the project, the holder of the portfolio in Bercy, Bruno Le Maire, specified the bankrupt to whom the withdrawal system is directed. “We must find 13,500 million in 2030. The reform will contribute 17,700 million euros, of which each euro will go to pension funds and only to pension funds,” he specified.

The remaining 4,200 million euros should thus allow financing “measures of justice”, that is to say, “the pensions of the most fragile” who will stop working at the age of 62 (3,000 million euros), as well as the devices to take into account difficulties and long careers (1,700 million euros). The remaining 600 million euros will be compensated by the excess line of accidents at work, he added.

Another argument is that current pensions will be revalued to 85% of the net minimum wage for almost two million small pensions. “Employed workers and the self-employed, particularly artisans and merchants, who have contributed all their lives with an income around the minimum wage will now leave with a pension of 85% of the net minimum wage, that is, an increase of 100 euros per month”, explained Borne, stressing that it is a measure that is the result of consultation with the parties and the unions.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne presented the pension reform project, on January 10, 2023, in Paris
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne presented the pension reform project, on January 10, 2023, in Paris

The motives of the ruling party are not enough for 70% of the French who see the initiative as negative. From the opposition, only the right represented by Olivier Marleix, president of Los Republicanos deputies, said he was “satisfied to have been heard.”

Unsurprisingly, the opposition left and the far right have criticized the raising of the legal retirement age to 64, in particular Jean-Luc Melenchon, who denounced a “serious social regression”. The left united in the NUPES sees the project as a declaration of war. “The only battle that will count is the one we can fight together, in the street,” they argued.

For his part, Marine LePen expressed his “determination to block” the “unfair” pension reform introduced by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. “After having been elected thanks to the left and rebellious France, Macron will now try, with the support of LR, to increase retirement to 64 years of age,” the president of the National Group group denounced on Twitter from the National Assembly.

Reformism was Macron’s letter of introduction. He entered his second five-year term after competing closely with far-right leader Le Pen. Months later, he suffered a setback in the parliamentary elections. He did not achieve an absolute majority, something unusual in French political reality. Three years after presenting a so-called systemic pension reform project, he now returns with a less transformative text. Will it be the last?

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