France's Macron proposes raising retirement age to 65 as part of presidential campaign

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By Lauren Chadwick
French President Emmanuel Macron and centrist candidate for the upcoming presidential election speaks as he meets residents in Poissy, west of Paris, Monday March 7, 2022.
French President Emmanuel Macron and centrist candidate for the upcoming presidential election speaks as he meets residents in Poissy, west of Paris, Monday March 7, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michel Euler

Emmanuel Macron would raise the retirement age to 65 if re-elected as France's president, the government confirmed on Thursday, a month ahead of France's presidential election.

The French president announced his candidacy for the upcoming April election just last week, a day ahead of the deadline, and is now beginning to unveil his reelection programme.

His government's spokesman confirmed that Macron would propose progressively raising the retirement age to 65 if given a second mandate.

"Do we want to continue financing protections for the French and invest for them? We say yes," spokesman Gabriel Attal told RTL.

"But do we think we should raise taxes? No. So that means working longer," Attal said. The current retirement age is 62 in France, with a vast number of factors counting in what's known as a complicated pension system.

France's parliament president Richard Ferrand specified that the increased retirement age would be for people born after 1969 at a debate organised by a large labour union.

There will be exceptions for people in tougher, more physical jobs for whom it'll be possible to retire at 62, Ferrand added.

The announcement of Macron's stance on retirement was heavily criticised by his fellow candidates.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who recently emerged as the leading candidate on the left, wants to reduce the retirement age to 60 and said that the president had not calculated what the new measure would cost in unemployment benefits.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who also proposes lowering the retirement age, but for those who started work early, said Macron had left the "people to sacrifice themselves."

Right-wing candidate Valérie Pécresse, who wants to raise the retirement age to 65, criticised Macron for not already having done so.

The French president previously had attempted to push through pension reform in 2020 that would have raised the age to 64, scrapping special programmes in favour of a single system.

The reform faced significant opposition, with protests across the country in early 2020. His proposal was later scrapped amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first round of France's presidential election is on April 10, with Macron leading in the polls among the major candidates.