Pension reform: French government will not ‘yield to violence’ Macron says

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French President Emmanuel Macron strongly condemned violence that erupted in Thursday’s demonstrations against raising the French retirement age and said he would not give in to it.

“We will yield nothing to violence, I condemn violence with the utmost strength,” Macron told a news conference, after an EU Summit in Brussels, on Friday.

Macron is under pressure to find a way out of a crisis that has seen some of France’s worst street violence in years over a pension bill he has pushed through parliament without a vote.

Strikes have caused widespread disruption in France, yet Macron vowed the government would continue with the “democratic process” to legalise the reform, which is now being examined by France’s highest constitutional authority.

“The pension reform is before the Constitutional Council and it is obvious that we will wait for the decision of the Constitutional Council,” Macron said. “We continue to move forward, France cannot be at a standstill.”

The head of state also said he was ready to talk to union leaders once the Constitutional Council has made its decision on the pension reform bill.

“I have indicated our availability to move forward on issues such as professional decline, the end of careers, retraining, career development, working conditions, and remuneration in certain sectors,” he said.

“I am at the disposal of the joint unions if they wish to come and meet me to make progress on all these subjects.”

As protests are expected to continue next week, a planned state visit to France from Britain’s King Charles III has been postponed at Macron’s request. 

>> Charles III’s state visit to France postponed due to unrest over pension reform

“I think we would not be serious and lack common sense to propose to His Majesty the King and the Queen Consort to come do a state visit in the middle of the demonstrations,” Macron said Friday.

The French president said that the visit would be rearranged for early summer.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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