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POLITICS

Macron: No pension reform in France before elections

In his address to the nation, Emmanuel Macron announced that there would be no pension reform before the end of his current presidential term, effectively abandoning one of his flagship policies, for now at least.

Three pensioners lead a protest against pension reform in Toulouse, France, 2020.
People take part in a demonstration against proposed pension reform in Toulouse. Macron has dropped the proposals - for now (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

Pension reform has long been an objective of Macron’s presidency. The aim was to merge France’s dozens of separate pension systems into one simplified system. 

Attempts to push the reform through have been met with significant resistance, with late 2019 and 2020 seeing the longest-running transport strikes since 1995.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday evening, Macron took pension reform off the table – at least until after April’s presidential election. 

“The health situation that we are living through is getting worse everywhere in Europe,” he said.

“The unanimous wish expressed by trade union and professional organisations to concentrate efforts on unity at the moment that we are living as a nation means that the conditions are not there to start work on this [pension reform] again.” 

The President said he would still like to see public and private pensions harmonised in the future but that this would be subject to democratic debate in 2022. 

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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