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French PM offers concession in battle over pension reform


Emmanuel Macron’s government may offer another concession on plans to raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64, seeking to secure a parliamentary majority amid a massive public backlash.
The government is considering another carve-out so more people can retire before they turn 64, Macron’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview with the JDD newspaper on Sunday. Debates on the proposal start on Monday at the National Assembly and unions are planning fresh strikes and protests for Tuesday.
The concession offered by Borne would add to other provisions designed to allow people who began working at a young age to retire earlier. If the latest change is accepted by parliament, people who began working between 20 and 21 years old could retire at 63, she said.
The move aims to sway lawmakers from the conservative Republicains party, whose support Macron’s centrist bloc needs for a majority.
“With this bill, as with others, we are looking for agreements,” Borne said in the interview with JDD. “I want to find a majority – that’s what I’ve been working on throughout recent weeks and months.”
Macron’s government is under pressure to rethink the president’s signature economic reform as more people join protests and opinion polls show the French overwhelmingly reject the reform.
His government could still use a constitutional provision known as the 49.3 to proceed without a vote in parliament, but that would risk further stoking anger. Last week, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said getting a majority is a question of “political legitimacy.”
The change to allow more people to retire at 63 would affect around 30,000 people a year in France with an annual cost of between €600 million ($648 million) and €1 billion. The government and parliament will have to find ways of financing the new measure to ensure the pension system still eliminates its deficit by 2030, Borne said.
It’s not clear the proposed changes will be sufficient to sway those currently opposed to the reform. Speaking on France Info radio on Sunday, the deputy leader of the Republicains, Pierre-Henri Dumont, said the concession is not broad enough.

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