In his New Year’s speech, French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to continue in 2023 with an unpopular overhaul of the country’s pension system, which will effectively force people to work longer in a country where an earlier retirement was once seen as politically sacred.
The new pension rules will come into effect from the end of the summer, the president said in his New Year’s address to the French nation, calling on citizens to “remain united and not give in to division.”
“This year will indeed be a year of pension reform, designed to guarantee the balance of our system in the years and decades to come,” Macron stressed in his Saturday speech.
“We must work harder,” Macron said.
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Marine Le Pen, who leads the parliamentary group of the National Rally, had promised to save France’s pension system and keep the retirement age at 62 during her presidential election campaign in 2022. She argued that by limiting immigration, which has been an enormous cost on France’s welfare system, she could help shore up money for France’s elderly population.
As Remix News reported in April of last year, Le Pen had warned that Macron would disappoint left-wing voters and move ahead with pension reform if he won office for another term.
“There is nothing to expect here from Emmanuel Macron,” Le Pen said at the time. “He will go all the way to the end with this obsession, because it’s a reality that the minimum (retirement) age of 65 is his obsession.”
Many trade unions and left-wing voters ended up voting for Macron to keep Le Pen out of office, despite Le Pen featuring a far wider range of left-wing economic policies than Macron, who is known for his support of financial liberalization and globalization, two phenomena that have contributed to the decline of the French economy.
Hungarian news outlet Mandiner noted that the French leader is likely to face a difficult start to the year as he seeks to push ahead with his plan, which includes raising the minimum age for receiving state benefits from 62 to 65. This has sparked outrage even among more moderate unions, the news agency recalled.
In Europe, the retirement age ranges from 62 to 67 years, with the majority of countries setting the age at 65 years. Only five countries have 67 years as the retirement age, a group the United Kingdom will join if it goes ahead with an earlier plan to raise the retirement age to 67 in 2028 from the current age of 66.