Emmanuel Macron faces dilemma over decision on pension reform

President risks strikes if he pushes ahead or accusations of being a spendthrift if he stalls

French president Emmanuel Macron met France’s social partners at the Élysée Palace on Tuesday to discuss a possible relaunch of the aborted reform. Photograph:  Yoan Valat/POOL/AFP

French president Emmanuel Macron met France’s social partners at the Élysée Palace on Tuesday to discuss a possible relaunch of the aborted reform. Photograph: Yoan Valat/POOL/AFP

The streamlining of France’s devilishly complex and costly pension system was to have been the mother of all reforms, the prestige project of Emmanuel Macron’s first term in office.

He almost got it done, toughing out a winter of transport strikes in 2019-2020 and then having former prime minister Édouard Philippe pass the reform by decree in the National Assembly on March 1st, 2020. Two weeks later, France went into its first Covid-19 lockdown. Instead of moving on to the Senate and back to the Assembly for a second reading, the law on pension reform was frozen.

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