The City of Love isn’t looking as lovely as we once remembered. Massive protests and clashes with police have swept the nation amidst mountains of trash and a sea of flames. All of this was because the retirement age increased from 62 to 64, a decision made by France’s president, Emmanuel Macron.
But why was the decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 such a big deal, and why did it cause France to be razed instead? Here’s what you need to know and why you should probably cancel your plans to visit in the meantime.
France, A Ticking Time Bomb
France spends roughly 14% of its GDP on pensions, one of the highest rates in the world. They also have one of the lowest retirement ages, at 62, compared to the rest of the EU, which hovers around 64 on average. However, as the population ages and birth rates decline, the workforce is gradually losing manpower, which may lead to the pension system going bankrupt in the near future. So raising the retirement age will grant them an additional €17.7 billion in annual pension contributions, allowing them to break even by 2027.
Raising taxes isn’t also viewed as a viable solution, as taxes in the country are high enough as it is. Thus, many countries raised their retirement ages to avoid this scenario, like the United Kingdom, which plans to raise the retirement age from 67 to 68 in 2044.
This wasn’t Macron’s first time trying to overhaul the pension system. In 2019, he tried to streamline 42 different state pension plans into one and introduce bonuses and penalties that encourage people to work until 64. Raising the retirement age was always met with fierce opposition then and now, but the situation in France has escalated because of Macron’s actions.
Macron: How To Piss Off The French Faster
Many people opposed Macron’s move to raise the retirement age; it was even said that he had long planned to raise it from 62 to 64 in order to save the country’s pension system’s long-term viability. However, what caused the mass riots was the method by which he enabled the reform.
A series of votes was supposed to happen to see if the Parliament would agree and pass the decision, but Macron used Article 49.3, a constitutional provision put in place since 1958, to bypass the Parliament and their votes. The idea of raising the retirement age has always been unsavoury, since its introduction in January of this year. This is why Macron’s invocation of a constitutional provision to immediately pass his plan also invoked the wrath of the French people.
Result And Current State Of France
As a form of protest, many workers from the public sector walked off in droves, such as trash collectors, allowing garbage to accumulate around the French capital. People by the millions have participated in the largely peaceful protests against this reform, causing large systems such as transportation to be paralysed. Many condemn violence during this time, but the people aren’t afraid to show how angry they are.
Though they are neck-deep in criticism and garbage (literally), the Macron government was able to survive a vote of no confidence, but for how long is anyone’s guess. We simply hope for the best and that things will hopefully be ironed out soon. The people have spoken, and they wouldn’t mind watching France burn if it means getting their point across. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end with them busting out the guillotine again.
Source: WIkimedia Commons . 
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