Macron lays out 'three pathways' to reuniting France after pension reform protests

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Macron lays out 'three pathways' to reuniting France after pension reform protests
French President Emmanuel Macron during a televised address to the nation. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

French president Emmanuel Macron has laid out his 'three pathways' to reunite the country as he tried to calm huge public anger over his controversial pension reforms.


Macron gave a pre-recorded speech to the nation on Monday evening, after his divisive pension reforms were signed into law over the weekend.

After repeating that he believed that the pension reforms - which include raising the pension age from 62 to 64 - were necessary because of the ageing population, he laid out the 'three pathways' to progress; work, justice and rule of law and social progress.

The speech consisted largely of a recap of work already done or proposals already outlined, such as creating 200 new police brigades and pledging that people with chronic illnesses would be able to register with a primary care doctor.

After saying that he had "heard the anger of the French people", Macron asked the country to "pull together" to reunite and rebuild, saying that he wanted to "outline the big project" for the country.

  • On work, after recapping some of his government's achievements in cutting unemployment and making France the most attractive country in Europe for foreign investment, Macron said he wanted to accelerate the 're-industrialisation' of the country, particularly in regard to green technologies.
  • On justice the rule of law, he repeated his pledge to recruit more police officers and magistrates and said the next projects would be preventing illegal immigration and combating criminality. 
  • On social progress, he said that teachers were now better paid, children were doing more sport in school and the government was working on a pledge to immediately replace teachers who are absent from the classroom. He repeated a pledge that 600,000 people with chronic illnesses will be registered with a doctor by the end of the year

He added that the prime minister and ministers will lay out more detail of the proposals next week, before a "first assessment' of the roadmap by July 14th, France's national day.


Around Paris, protesters had gathered for 'concerts de casseroles' - or concerts of banging saucepans - during his speech, which at just 13 minutes long was close to a record of brevity for Macron.

The speech had been billed as an attempt by Macron to calm public anger over pension reform, and move on to the next priorities for this government. 

The pension reform - the subject of months of strikes and protests - was signed into law over the weekend, after having most sections approved by the Constitutional Council on Friday. The government aims for it to become law by September and for the pension age to be gradually raised from 62 to 64 by 2030.

The president added he "regretted" no consensus could be found on the reform and understood the "anger" felt by the French.


"Has this reform been accepted? Obviously not. And despite months of consultations, no consensus could be found and I regret it."

Noting the protests that have raged against the reform, he added: "No one, especially not me, can remain deaf to this demand for social justice."

"The answer can be neither in rigidity, nor in extremism," said the president, adding his "door will always be open" to talks with the unions.

Unions and leftist opposition figures are determined to continue the battle and have called for people to take to the streets to show their anger on May 1st, traditionally a day of demos and marches in France.

Strike calendar: Dates to know in the ongoing French pension reform battle


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