Macron plans to raise French retirement age to 65

Emmanuel Macron plans to raise the retirement age in France to 65 if he is elected for a second term, government spokesman Gabriel Attal has confirmed, reopening a contentious issue that sparked widespread strikes in 2019.

Macron plans to raise French retirement age to 65
Pensions have been the cause of numerous protests in France in recent years, including this one in October 2021 in Bordeaux. (Photo: Philippe Lopez / AFP)

The president had declared in December that he wanted the French to “work longer”, and has repeated the message twice, firstly in his open letter to the French people in which he finally declared his candidacy for the Elysée, and secondly at a meeting involving a number of elected officials who had signed letters of sponsorship in his favour to allow him to run for a second term.

According to one person at that meeting, Macron said that he intended to bring “an ambitious pension reform for a social model that holds, […] but which also requires an investment for solidarity between generations and a project for the ‘autonomy’.”

And Attal confirmed the progressive pull back of the retirement age in an interview on RTL this morning.

The current official retirement age in France is 62, although workers in many industry including train drivers have ‘special regimes’ that allow them to retire earlier, in some cases from 55.

During his first term, Macron proposed a reform that simplified the system and got rid of the special regimes. Retirement age remained at 62, although a full pension was only granted from 64. 

Approved by Parliament despite two months of protests and strikes in 2019, the changes were in the end not rolled out because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO Macron: No pension reform in France before elections

But now-candidate Macron is set to push on with his plans and in fact expand them – including adding three years on to the working life of most French people, a policy in line with that of Presidential rival Valérie Pécresse.

President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand, who will represent Emmanuel Macron during an audition of candidates before the CFDT on Thursday, is set to outline the plans in more detail.

Macron’s campaign team promised that pensions would be simplified under the reforms: the transition to 65 years will be rolled out over a 10-year period, and will be accompanied by a number of other reforms, including a new minimum pension of €1,100 per month for those who have a full work history.

In addition, Emmanuel Macron wants to remove “the main special regimes” including those of workers at RATP or EDF, Le Figaro has reported.

The paper added that France’s pensions bill was €327.9 billion in 2019, or 13.5 percent of GDP, and the pension pot was in deficit to the tune of €18 billion in 2020.

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.