France, controversial pension reform bill removes major stumbling block

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — After weeks of heated debate, France’s pension reform bill passed in the lower house of the French parliament, clearing major obstacles to the president’s reforms.

The National Assembly approved the bill, which aims to simplify 42 separate pension schemes into a point-based system designed to be simpler and fairer.

In the final parliamentary deliberations, the bill had two no-confidence votes, despite being composed of 39 articles and having 41,000 amendments put in place by opposition parties to delay its adoption.

The opposition failed against President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist majority in the National Assembly.

It will now return to the Senate for debate, and then back to the National Assembly for a final discussion before it is adopted or rejected.

Reaction to changes in current pension reform sparked nationwide protests throughout December and January, causing disruption to France’s transport systems for much of that time.

Key to the current debate was Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s announcement on Saturday of the use of Article 49.3 of the rarely-implemented Constitution, which allows the government to pass a bill in parliament without a vote if they hold a majority.

In his deviation last night against those concerns expressed, Philippe highlighted the fact that Article 49.3 has been used six times by parliament in other recent legislative debates.

Trade union protests against the bill took place in various cities in France, including Paris, but none gathered as in previous strikes that swept the country.

Another major union protest is scheduled for March 31.


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