President Emmanuel Macron has been mocked by other presidential election candidates over plans to push the French retirement age back three years to 65 if he is re-elected next month.
He has also stated that he will work to ensure a state pension of at least €1,100 per month for a full career, RTL reported.
A member of the president’s campaign team confirmed the pledge to BFMTV, saying: “This is a goal that the candidate is working on.” Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal also confirmed the plans.
Mr Macron has said that he will gradually move the private retirement age back to 65 over the next 10 years to 2032. The current fixed age for a full pension starts at 62.
Figures from the retirement body le Conseil d'orientation des retraites show that pension funds are in deficit to the tune of €10billion per year due to the Covid pandemic, with shortages and price pressure due to the war in Ukraine also set to have more knock-on effects.
Moving the pension age back by three years will help to keep pension amounts per month stable and shore up the deficit, Mr Macron has said.
Assemblée nationale president, Richard Ferrand – appearing as Mr Macron’s representative – will present the details of the plans at a presentation today (March 10), in front of union la CFDT.
Pension reform is highly controversial in France, as in many other countries. In 1995, three weeks of nationwide strikes brought a complete paralysis of the public transport network and the then prime minister Alain Juppé was forced to abandon plans to change the so-called ‘special retirement scheme,’ which provides benefits for those working in sectors such as railways.
Long-term reform of the pension system was a key pledge of Mr Macron’s 2017 election campaign. At the time he said he wanted to have a single pension system to which all French people will be affiliated, regardless of their professional status, within 10 years.
Reaction to Mr Macron’s plan from rivals
The plans have prompted derision from the other election candidates across the political spectrum.
Yannick Jadot, who is left-wing / green, condemned the reform idea as “extremely unfair” during an interview with Europe 1.
He said: “We are in a country where 50% of people who take their retirement are already no longer working," he said, citing unemployment and illness.
"I would undertake a reform of pensions to put [acknowledgement of] hardship back at the heart of the pension system.”
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen said: “Emmanuel Macron wants to make the French people pay for his incompetence. With him, it’s always the people who have to make sacrifices. I pledge to allow those who started early to retire early.”
Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon said: “Macron is planning to make retirement age 65. Our programme aims to make it 60. In one month, we will know what will be decided.”
And Valérie Pécresse (Right-wing), who has suggested a similar idea, nonetheless criticised the sitting president for not having achieved his goal already.
She said: “How can we trust Macron as a candidate when he promises everything that Macron the president has not managed to do during his five-year term?"
Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo has not yet personally responded to the pledge, but she has retweeted several highly-critical tweets on her official Twitter account.
Among them is a tweet from Socialist Party spokesperson, Boris Vallaud, denouncing Mr Macron’s plans as “unfair and cynical”.
What are the current pension rules in France?
Currently, the statutory retirement age is fixed at 62 for those born on or after January 1, 1955.
A standard state pension for a private sector employee is calculated according to your 25 most highly-paid working years, so – for example – a manager would receive far more than a retail worker
The French social security website states that for those retiring at 62, you must have accrued a certain number of contributions in order to receive the maximum amount. If you retire at 62 before these have been accrued, your amount will be reduced permanently.
Retirement at age 65 to 67 means you will receive your full rate, regardless of how many quarters of contributions you have accrued. Whether this applies at age 65, 66 or 67 depends on your date of birth and circumstances.
People with a long career may retire at age 60 if they have accrued the required number of contribution quarters due to starting work at an early age. People with disabilities, those who did arduous work, or are permanently incapacitated may also retire at age 60 or before if they meet certain criteria.
Full details, including calculation rates and criteria, can be seen in English on the official social security website here.