France is aiming to raise the retirement age to 64

France is aiming to raise the retirement age to 64

France is aiming to raise the retirement age to 64

People in France should work two more years before they can retire, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said, detailing an unpopular reform of the pension system that has risked strikes.

The long-delayed reform raises the retirement age 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 aware that changing our pension system raises questions and fears among the French,” Ms Borne said on Tuesday, adding that her government will work to convince the French of the need for the reform.

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

The pension system overhaul was a central pillar of Mr Macron’s reformist agenda when he entered the Elysee Palace in 2017. But he shelved his first attempt in 2020 as the government struggled to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

The second try doesn’t get any easier. The leaders of the leading French unions meet to discuss how to respond with protests and strikes. The CFDT – France’s largest union – has already threatened to protest after abstaining three years ago despite concerns about the reform before it was put on hold.

“If the retirement age is raised to 65 or 64, the CFDT will do what we promised, we will resist this reform by calling on workers to mobilize,” CFDT chief Laurent Berger said recently.

Mr. Macron and Ms. Borne must also pass the reform in Parliament, where they do not have an absolute majority.

That looks less challenging than it did a few weeks ago after the government made some concessions to the conservative Les Republicains (LR) party. Still, LR didn’t get everything it wanted and it disagrees on this issue, so every vote will count.

With one of the lowest retirement ages in industrialized countries, France spends more than most other countries on pensions, accounting for almost 14 percent of economic output, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In practice, following the government’s proposal, the age from which one can retire and receive a pension in France will gradually increase by three months per year, starting this September, reaching 63 years and 3 months in 2027 and the target age of 64 years in 2030.

To receive a full pension you must have worked for 43 years as of 2027.

“We have to face reality and find solutions to preserve our social model,” Ms Borne said, stressing that France’s neighbors in Europe have also raised the retirement age in recent years.

Mathilde Panot of left-wing France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party tweeted that the plan was “archaic, unfair, brutal, cruel”.

Reuters

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