‘Great deal of worry!’ Macron’s landmark plot for France reform branded ‘big gamble’
Macron’s comments on race relations discussed by RT panelists
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The europhile French President faces a tough fight against far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen to retain power of the republic. And his previous attempts to tackle the country’s notoriously bureaucratic pension system – which has separate set-ups for 42 different professions – ended in spectacular failure.
Yellow Vest protestors rioted continuously for months as Mr Macron tried in vain to implement reforms he pledged to push through during his 2017 election campaign.
They never materialised and were put on hold when the Covid pandemic erupted last March.
Now with France and the rest of the world slowly emerging from the virus’ shadow – his ill-fated reforms are back on the agenda.
But after taking a battering in last month’s regional elections – many prominent figures are warning the 43-year-old president to stave off diving head-first into a fight he may not win.
Stephane Richard, chief executive officer of telecom giant Orange SA told Bloomberg News: “There’s already a great deal of worry and uncertainty. It would be a gamble to add more.
“If it was me, I wouldn’t do it.”
Air Liquide SA chief executive officer Benoit Potier added: “Pension reform should be engineered now and implemented only after the 2022 election”.
Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, the head of the country’s Medef business lobby, also believes Mr Macron should delay.
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He told a conference this week: “Pension reform is needed in France.
“That said, the president has himself said that what’s at stake for us is supporting the economic recovery and creating the maximum number of jobs, so we will have to assess the right timing.”
Despite these stark warnings, Mr Macron’s government has so far refused to rule out trying to pass reforms ahead of next year’s election.
On Monday government spokesman Gabriel Attal told France Inter radio: “One thing we’re ruling out is putting France on hold for 10 months.”
Others claim that with the current system costing French taxpayers £8.5billion a year, Mr Macron has no choice but to act.
Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne told the same conference: “Everything is on the table. We need to look at how we would do this.”
Last month Mr Macron admitted that the initial reforms proposed before Covid would not now materialise.
But tellingly, he refused to rule out pressing ahead with attempts to streamline France’s cumbersome public services.
He said: “I do not think that the reform as it was originally envisaged can go ahead as such.
“It was very ambitious and extremely complex and that is why it generated anxiety, we must admit that.
“Doing it right now would mean ignoring that there are already a lot of worries.”
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