June 3, 2023

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Macron redoubles his efforts on French “independence” amid the pension reform crisis – POLITICO

French President Emmanuel Macron linked the reform of the pension system in his country to the independence of Europe from other countries, during a televised speech on Monday evening.

“We are a people who intend to control and choose our destiny, and we do not want to depend on anyone, not on forces of speculation, not on foreign powers, not on wills other than our own, and we are right,” Macron said during the 15-minute speech.

The French head of state’s televised appearance was the first time he has addressed the nation since signing the controversial pension reform – which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 – into law amid a protracted political and social crisis.

The president’s reference to independence from “foreign powers” was a repeat of controversial comments he made earlier this month in an interview with Politico and French daily Les Echos. On his way back from China, the French president made a fuss by saying that Europe should avoid being subordinate to the United States – including with regard to Taiwan’s security.

“It cannot be declared independent: it is built through ambitions and efforts at the national and European level, in terms of knowledge, research, attractiveness, technology, industry and defense. It is also funded collectively by labour,” Macron said on Monday.

He added that European and French independence is what “will allow us to have more justice” and reduce inequality.

The country’s Supreme Constitutional Court gave the green light to the bill on Friday, dashing hopes of opposition parties and unions that reform could be halted.

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The French president, facing the prospect of a crowded parliament, said his government would focus on work, law, justice and “progress” in the coming months, with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne expected to present a more detailed roadmap next week.