France’s finance minister has admitted that trying to push back the country’s retirement age is a “risk” for President Emmanuel Macron as he seeks reelection, but says it is necessary to reinforce and protect the French social system.
Macron’s campaign pledges for elections next month features a shakeup of France’s complicated pensions system and the moving of the retirement age to 65 from 62. France currently has one of the earliest retirement ages among industrialized nations.
The president made a similar promise before 2017’s election, but the final proposals were met with protests before being halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to CNBC’s Charlotte Reed on Thursday evening, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said it was “risky, but it’s a necessity.”
“It is a necessity if you want to improve the global prosperity of the French nation … Because that’s the best way of protecting our social model. That’s the best way of giving the guarantee to all the French citizens that they will have access to a fair and efficient pension system,” he said.
Another option would be to increase taxes, but “clearly” we don’t want to do that, he said, adding that the administration actually wants to cut taxes instead.
“The other way would be to reduce the level of pensions. That’s also a solution that we clearly want to avoid,” Le Maire said.
“So if you want to avoid those two bad solutions, and if you want to reinforce and protect the French social system you don’t have any other choice than to push back the retirement age.”