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French Senate adopts final version of pension reform bill

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-16 21:48

Protesters, holding a placard which reads "Members of parliament, do not vote the pension reform bill", gather in front of the National Assembly in Paris as French parliament set to vote on pensions reform bill, France, March 16, 2023. [Photo/Ahencies]

PARIS -- The French Senate on Thursday adopted the definitive version of the pension reform bill, which will lift the retirement age by two years to 64 from 2027.

A total of 193 French senators voted on Thursday morning in favor of and 114 against the bill that was elaborated on the day before by the joint committee of seven senators and seven members of the National Assembly.

The bill will be voted in the afternoon by the National Assembly where the government doesn't have an absolute majority. The vote in the National Assembly will be decisive for the bill to become a law.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne could also use an article in the Constitution to pass the bill in the lower house of the French Parliament without a vote. But unions and opposition parties have already threatened to lay out further action if the government uses this constitutional power.

The French Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday evening that 480,000 people across the country had participated in the eighth general mobilization against the reforms, organized by the unions.

However, France's largest union, the General Confederation of Labor, said that more than 1.7 million people took to the streets to defend their retirement scheme.

Major unions already announced that they would be marching in front of the National Assembly on Thursday to push "one last time" the deputies to reject the pension reform bill.

Borne laid out details of the pension reform plan in January, under which the legal retirement age would be progressively raised by three months a year from 62 to 64 by 2030, and a guaranteed minimum pension would be introduced.

Under the plan, as of 2027, at least 43 years of work would be required to be eligible for a full pension.

In 2021, France's expenditure on the pension system equaled 13.8 percent of the country's GDP. However, the country's Pensions Advisory Council (COR) said that the share of pension expenditure would rise sharply due to the sharp contraction in GDP and would vary between 14.2 percent and 14.7 percent between 2027 and 2032.

In a report published by the COR in September 2022, the pension system watchdog said that from 2022 to 2032, the country's pension system would be in deficit.

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