The French would have to work two more years before they can retire, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said, detailing an unpopular reform of the pension system that has led to the threat of strikes.
The long-delayed overhaul pushes the retirement age back to 64, a move opposed by four in five citizens according to an Odoxa poll, at a time when many are already grappling with a cost of living crisis.
“I am well aware that changing our pension system raises questions and fears among the French,” Ms. Borne said on Tuesday, adding that her government would try to convince the French that the reform was necessary.
“Today we are proposing a balanced plan for our pension system, a plan that is fair,” she said.
Overhauling the pension system was a central pillar of Mr Macron’s reformist agenda when he entered the Elysee Palace in 2017. But he abandoned his first attempt in 2020 as the government struggled to contain the Covid outbreak -19.
The second attempt will not be easier. Leaders of France’s main trade unions meet to discuss the response with protests and strikes. The CFDT – France’s largest union – has previously threatened to protest, having refrained from action three years ago despite apprehensions about the reform before it was scrapped.
“If the retirement age is pushed back to 65 or 64, the CFDT will do what we have said, we will resist this reform by calling on workers to mobilize,” CFDT boss Laurent Berger said recently. .
Mr. Macron and Ms. Borne will also have to pass the reform in Parliament, where they do not have an absolute majority.
It seems less difficult than a few weeks ago after the government made some concessions to the conservative Les Républicains (LR) party. Even so, LR didn’t get everything they wanted and they aren’t united on the issue, so every vote will count.
With one of the lowest retirement ages in the industrialized world, France spends more than most countries on pensions, at almost 14% of economic output, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. .
In practice, according to the government’s proposal, the age at which one can retire and receive a pension in France will be gradually raised by three months a year, from next September, to reach 63 years and 3 months in 2027 and the target age of 64. in 2030.
To receive a full pension, it will be necessary, from 2027, to have worked 43 years.
“We have to face reality and find solutions to preserve our social model,” said Ms. Borne, pointing out that France’s neighbors in Europe have also increased the retirement age in recent years.
Mathilde Panot, of the left-wing France Insoumise party, tweeted that the plan was “archaic, unjust, brutal, cruel”.