France, Macron’s speech on TV: “The pension reform in force in the autumn”

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“The changes envisaged by this law on pensions will enter into force gradually starting from the autumn”. French President Emmanuel Macron began with these words in his TV address to the French after confirming that he had promulgated the reform law which for 3 months causes protests in the country. The pension reform “was necessary to guarantee everyone’s pension and to produce more wealth for our nation”, says Macron, according to whom “while the number of pensioners increases and our life expectancy lengthens, the answer could not have been to lower pensions or increase the contributions of those who work”.

Macron: “I felt the anger of the French”

In his televised speech, President Macron, speaking of the disputed pension reform, said: “The reform was necessary, but is it an accepted reform? Clearly it is not. Despite months of concertation, no consensus could be found. And I regret it, we must draw all the lessons from it”. “I felt the anger of the French. I felt in the demonstrations an opposition to the reform – continued the president – but also a desire to rediscover meaning in one’s work, to improve conditions, to have careers that allow one to progress in life”. Then he added: “No one can remain deaf” to the “anger expressed” by the French, “especially me”.

“Let’s open three construction sites: work, justice and progress”

Macron has now proposed, after the approval of the pension reform, “the opening of three construction sites”, one concerning work, one on justice and one on progress. On the first, the president welcomed the creation “of 1.7 million jobs in the last 6 years” and said he wanted to “start the reform of the vocational high school so that the greatest number of our teenagers can access qualifying training is at work”. Macron added that he intends to launch “a new life at work pact” with the social partners in the coming weeks.

France, pot protest concerts during Macron’s speech

Coinciding with President Emmanuel Macron’s address to the nation, around 8 pm, pot concerts were held in front of numerous French town halls and prefectures to protest against the pension reform.

Macron’s moves

Macron addressed the French this evening with a speech whose objective is to try to re-establish dialogue with the population after the disputed promulgation of the pension reform law, between last Friday and Saturday. The publication in the Official Gazette only a few hours after the go-ahead from the Constitutional Council was interpreted by the unions and the opposition as yet another “provocation”. “He shows contempt right up to the last minute,” CFDT leader Laurent Berger said. The trade unions and the parties that opposed the reform that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 say they are determined to continue the battle, even if from an institutional point of view the path of the reform has been completed. Macron would like to “turn the page” and “move on to other reforms” – as Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne underlined – but the use of trust to pass a law in parliament that most French people did not want has left its mark. The trade unions – who also meet during the day to finalize the strategy – want to keep the social temperature high and not let the protest die down. For May 1, the leader of the CGT, Sophie Binet, wants a “popular and historic wave” in the streets. Berger hopes that on that day “all records will be broken in terms of demonstrators in the square”.