Macron Could Still Squeeze in a Pension Reform, Le Maire Says

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is keeping pressure on President Emmanuel Macron to push on with contentious overhauls, despite the elections only a year from now.

According to Le Maire, a pension reform to address the financial imbalances in the country’s system is still possible before voters head to the polls in April 2022.

“When the time comes there will be a pension reform so that France catches up in terms of the amount of work people do throughout their lives,” Le Maire said at a conference organized by Politico in Paris. “It’s up to the president and him alone to decide. I think it’s perfectly possible in this five-year term to take measure to improve the financial situation of pensions.”

Macron dropped a planned overhaul of pensions when the pandemic struck France last year, and after prolonged strikes and protests against his plans. Le Maire has repeatedly said changes to pensions will still be needed one day and France should not give up on structural reforms, even if he hasn’t set an exact time-line.

The timing, however, is tricky. The French economy is not expected to pick up until the second half of this year, leaving a small window for more reforms before the presidential elections. Still, earlier this week, Macron went ahead with an overhaul of unemployment welfare, which also faces broad opposition from labor and business unions.

Le Maire said it is necessary to address the deficits in France’s pension system in order to guarantee solidarity between generations and future living standards.

“We need to be able to work longer, and we need to ensure people over 50 are encouraged to keep working and young people can get into the job market more easily,” Le Maire said.

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