Macron Says Reforming France Like a Journey Through Death Valley

(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron said reforming France is like trying to get through the valley of death -- the only way to succeed is to keep moving forward.

“When we pass reforms we have to go through death valley,” the French leader said in a conference in Paris on Monday. “It’s while we were in this death valley that we were attacked,” he said, a reference to the Yellow-Vest protest movement that has roiled his administration with social unrest since December.

The French president already changed labor laws, the wealth tax and the transport system since taking office two years ago. Next up he aims to tackle unemployment benefits and the public pension systems in a move that’s been called the mother-of-all reforms in France.

The 41-year-old promised bankers sitting at a table in the Elysee Palace that part two of his reforms would be even more far-reaching, with extra flexibility rules for the labor market and more “incentives” for people to get back to work. The pensions systems in France, he said must become more “transparent” and said he was eyeing the Scandinavian model as a team is rounding up talks to draft the reform.

“We tried something innovative in the political field so we got an innovative social crisis,” he told the group of bankers.

“We probably had an unbalanced mix of reforms” during the first phase, Macron said, but he promised more balance and more work to explain his plans to voters going forward.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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