PARIS (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that now was not the time to push ahead with pension reform, as a fifth wave of COVID infections took hold in Europe, leaving it highly unlikely he would see through a reform wanted to help create a more flexible labour market before next spring’s election.
Reforming France’s costly and complicated pension system was a key plank of Macron’s 2017 election platform but his initial proposals infuriated the unions and provoked weeks of protests and transport strikes just before the pandemic hit. Macron put it on hold as he ordered France into lockdown early 2020.
“The conditions are not in place to relaunch this major project today… we will need to make clear decisions regarding the reform of the pension system from 2022 onwards,” Macron said.
Presidential elections are scheduled for April, 2022, with Macron – who has not yet officially declared that he will seek a second term – projected in polls to win.
In his previous speech to the nation on July 12, Macron had said that his government would continue its pension system overhaul as soon as the COVID-19 situation was under control. However. on Tuesday he said things were worsening again.
New COVID infections per day set a two-month high on Tuesday.
“Our determination to save our pensions model and to correct inequalities has not changed,” Macron said.
He said it was necessary to push back the retirement age and to do away with a string of special regimes that allow certain categories of workers to retire earlier than others.
He also said that nobody who has worked the full number of years required for a pension should retire on less than 1,000 euros ($1,155.40) per month.
($1 = 0.8655 euros)
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Richard Lough)