After bypassing Parliament, Macron wants French retirement age raised by end of year

French President Emmanuel Macron clasping his hands
French President Emmanuel Macron insists that a controversial plan to raise the retirement age must be implemented by the end of the year.
(Michel Euler / Associated Press)

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that the pension bill that he pushed through without a vote in parliament needs to be implemented by the “end of the year.”

Macron, who made the comments in an interview broadcast on national television, said the bill, which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64, will “continue its democratic path.”

The Constitutional Council needs to review the bill in the coming weeks, and it can be turned into law only after the body gives its approval.


It was the first time that Macron has spoken publicly since his government forced the pension bill through Parliament last week, prompting protests in Paris and across the country, some degenerating into violence. His government survived two no-confidence votes in the lower chamber of Parliament on Monday.

The 45-year-old French president repeatedly said that he was convinced that the retirement system needed to be modified to remain financially sustainable.

“That reform is not a luxury, it is not fun, it’s a necessity for the country,” he said.

The pension plan raises the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 despite weeks of protests across the country against it.

March 20, 2023

Macron condemned the violence at some protests.

He notably referred to rioters storming the U.S. Capitol in 2021 and Brazil’s top government buildings earlier this year, as well as the “yellow vest” protest movement against social injustice in France in 2018, which led to violent clashes and vandalism in the Paris streets.

“When the United States of America lived what they lived at the Capitol, when Brazil lived what it lived, when you have seen extreme violence in Germany, the Netherlands or sometimes here at home in the past ... we must say that we do respect [peaceful protesters], we do listen, we’re trying to move the country forward ... but we cannot accept factious people nor factions,” he said.

At the same time, Macron insisted that he respected unions and protests organized by critics of his plan as opposed to troublemakers. “We must listen to them, listen to their anger and respond to it,” he said.

Now we need to update our thinking about when a person becomes ‘old.’ It’s not at 62, even if the French would like to retire then.

March 22, 2023

Unions have called for new nationwide protests and strikes Thursday to demand that the government simply withdraw the retirement bill. High-speed and regional trains, the Paris Metro and other public transportation in major cities are expected to be disrupted.


Macron acknowledged that a majority of his compatriots are opposed to the pension change. “But between opinion polls and the general interest of the country, I’m choosing the general interest. ... And if it means bearing unpopularity afterwards, I will bear it.”

He also said he “trusts” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to continue leading the government, suggesting that he is not planning a Cabinet reshuffle.

Dock workers in Marseille on Wednesday blocked access to the city’s commercial port — France’s biggest — preventing trucks and cars from entering amid a heavy police presence.

Garbage was still piling up on some Paris streets as sanitation workers entered their 17th day of striking. Authorities issued an order in recent days requiring some garbage employees to ensure a “minimum service” for health reasons.

Oil shipments in the country were partially disrupted amid strikes at several refineries in western and southern France. Gas stations in the country’s southeast region are currently the most affected by shortages.

In Rennes, in the western region of Brittany, clashes with police broke out Wednesday at a protest initially called by fishermen angry at rising oil prices and a European Union draft plan to ban heavy weighted nets that sweep the seabed.

The fishermen were joined by various groups of people protesting Macron’s pension bill, and the demonstration turned into a broader show of anger, with some participants throwing objects and flares and setting fire to garbage and other articles. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.