“It’s not fun for me, but it’s necessary,” said French President Emmanuel Macron in a television interview on pension reform.
President Emmanuel Macron plans to enact a law raising the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 by the end of the year, despite protests across the country. He will remain steadfast on the issue, he announced in a television interview.
“This reform is not a luxury, it is not a pleasure, it is a necessity for the country,” Macron said in an interview with television channels TF1 and France 2. “Do you think I enjoy doing this reform?” asked Macron rhetorically the two journalists and immediately answer with a clear “No”. The truth is that he regrets not having been able to demonstrate the need for this reform.
law without a vote of Parliament
Macron’s government introduced the law last week through a special constitutional provision that bypassed a vote in the National Assembly. For this, the government of Elisabeth Borne had to face two no-confidence votes. The government narrowly survived the vote with nine votes with an absolute majority.
Article 49 paragraph 3 (49.3) of french constitution was introduced by Charles de Gaulle in 1958. It states that unless a motion of no-confidence against the government is passed within 24 hours, a law proposed by the government is deemed to have been passed. The procedure may only be used three times per session. An exception applies when the planned law relates to the state budget, as in the case of pension reform. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has invoked the article eleven times, whenever the government does not have a majority in the National Assembly on a project.
Macron emphasized that the pension funds are no longer balanced. “The longer we wait, the worse it gets.” Alternatives to reform were to lower pensions, raise taxes or build up more debt. The President rejected all of these variants.
The reform is very difficult. We ask people to make an effort. That’s never popular.
In view of the massive rejection of the reform by the population, Macron said: “Between the short-term polls and the general interest of the country, I choose the general interest of the country.” The reform is very difficult. “We ask people to make an effort. It’s never popular.”
Macron also wants improvements in the world of work: “If we want to give an efficient answer to this legitimate anger, then I want us to get involved with the social partners on specific issues.” He identified potential improvements for people doing heavy manual labor or careers for older workers. The dialogue with the social partners should begin in a few weeks.
The President has also backed ailing Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne. “She has my trust to steer this government team,” said Macron in an interview.
Retirement age now 64 years
In France, the pension reform aims to gradually raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets against this reform in recent months. Since the law was enacted, protests have intensified. There were repeated clashes between the police and demonstrators.
Along with ongoing strikes at oil refineries, public transport and garbage collection, for example, the government is under more pressure than it has been since the “yellow vest” protest four years ago. The unions have announced another nationwide day of strikes and demonstrations for Thursday.