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France no longer sees raising retirement age to 65 as ‘a priority’

Pension reform was a key election pledge from President Macron, but future changes will now not be discussed until at least September, says the government

A protester holds a sign saying ‘Touche pas a ma retraite’, meaning ‘Don’t touch my retirement [pension]’

Pension reform has been a key pledge of Mr Macron’s government for years but it is not popular with many Pic: AndriiKoval / Shutterstock

Pension reform, a key pledge from President Emmanuel Macron’s presidential election campaign, is no longer a major priority for the government, new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said.

Mr Macron had said multiple times that he planned to raise the pension age in France from 62 to 65 years, and said that the move would be one of the only ways to tackle the pension deficit. 

Read more: Retirement at 65 (not 62) and €1,100 monthly pension: Macron's plans 

However, new PM Ms Borne has now said that it is no longer seen as a “beacon” goal of the government, and Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt has said that instead, the government will prioritise “consultation and dialogue” on the issue.

Mr Macron had said that he pledged to “gradually raise the legal retirement age to 65 years”, and had also planned to end "the main special schemes (EDF, RATP...) for new workers, as we have done for SNCF".

He said that he wanted to increase the minimum pension age “by four months each year”, reaching age 64 by 2027-2028.

Yet, the president also promised "fair consideration of cases of disability, long or arduous careers", "support to prevent professional burnout, and to fight against unemployment among seniors". 

He also said that he would "continue discussions on a simpler universal scheme for future generations". 

However, this consideration of a universal system had to be suspended in March 2020, as the government – under then-PM Edouard Philippe – switched its focus to managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

And in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche, Ms Borne said that the government would need to “gradually work over a slightly longer timeframe”, with the aim of "preserving the pay-as-you-go pension system". 

But, as Le Monde later reported, she added that the 65-year-old threshold is now no longer a major priority. The interview came after Ms Borne received a number of union leaders during meetings at the prime ministerial residence, Matignon.

Frédéric Sève, national secretary in charge of pensions at the union la Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT), told Dossier Familial: "It was an exchange of views. Elisabeth Borne reiterated the priorities of the government's action: purchasing power, health and the ecological transition.”

Before her appointment as PM, Ms Borne was previously Labour Minister from July 2020.

New Labour Minister Mr Dussopt has also remained guarded about plans for reform. In an interview with RTL, he said: “We must first start with consultation and dialogue”, and estimated that negotiations could only begin "in September or October". 

Yet, a presidential decree states that part of Mr Dussopt’s mandate in the ministry will include “preparations and action, in concert with other relevant ministers, over pension reform”.

To this end, he said that “reform has already been voted for” and that the change in priority is only a “postponement” that is already provided for in the current bill.

The change in priority comes ahead of the legislative elections, which are set to take place on June 12 and 19.

Read more: Macron’s party leads as French citizens living abroad vote for MPs

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