Comments made by the French president about reform of the pension system have been interpreted as signalling the postponing of the project until a potential new term.

Emmanuel Macron’s planned overhaul of the pension system, along with other reforms, was put on hold in March as a response to the coronavirus crisis.

On Monday evening he addressed voters in a televised address focussed on vaccination against COVID-19. He also brought up the subject of pension reform, saying it was necessary to correct for an “unjust” pension system, with “major inequalities” between the different regimes.

He also said the retirement age would need to be increased, although this would be gradual and take into account the nature of the work a person has done, and that the minimum pension should be more than €1,000 a month.

He said he would ask the prime minister to work with social partners on the reform from the beginning of the school year, but would not launch the reform until the coronavirus situation was under control and the recovery well-assured.

In France, several observers saw Macron’s comments amount to a postponing of the pension reform given elections next year.

At CFDT, a major trade union in France, general secretary Laurent Berger told a TV programme that “the reform is postponed after the presidential election and it is a position of wisdom”.

Berger and the employers’ union Medef have both argued against Macron trying to see through a pensions reform in the autumn.

Hardline union CGT has taken a similar position. In a comment on Macron’s speech it said the president had presented his pension reform plan as “particularly fair and necessary”, but that he “temporises by delaying it until post-COVID, in other words for a possible new mandate”.

A source in the institutional investor industry in France told IPE that Macron’s non-coronavirus-related speech was “that of a candidate in an electoral campaign“.

“There’s no point forcing it now,” she said. “If president Macron is re-elected he’ll do it then, if not someone else will pursue their pension reform, but this needs to be done calmly.”

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