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Why is France opposed to a retirement age of 64, which is already in effect among our European neighbors?

Why does France oppose a retirement age of 64, which is already in place among our European neighbors? “What are we waiting for to set fire? Just to be a little more numerous…” For several months now, France has been experiencing an unprecedented social crisis. The sidewalks of Paris have turned into a “public dumping ground,” with a series of protests and unions regaining legitimacy after years of declining representation. That is the current state of France. Most of our European neighbors have already set the legal retirement age at various thresholds ranging from 62 to 67, with a European average of 64. So why has this decision in France resulted in a social disaster that could potentially see the Prime Minister lose her role as a useful scapegoat for a tumultuous Macron, even internationally?

Why does France refuse a retirement age of 64: Our European neighbors!

The updated table from the Toute l’Europe website in July 2022 poses an important question:

Country Legal retirement age (as of July 1, 2022)

Germany 67 years

Austria 65 years for men, 60 years for women

Belgium 65 years

Bulgaria 64 years and 5 months for men 61 years and 10 months for women

Cyprus 65 years

Croatia 65 years for men, 63 years for women

Denmark 67 years

Spain 65 years

Estonia 64 years and 3 months

Finland 64 years for individuals born in 1958, with an additional 3 months per year, up to 65 years for those born between 1962 and 1964

France 62 years

Greece 67 years (with 15 years of contributions) or 62 years (with 40 years of contributions)

Hungary 65 years

Ireland 66 years

Italy 67 years

Latvia 64 years and 3 months

Lithuania 64 years and 4 months for men, 63 years and 8 months for women

Luxembourg 65 years

Malta 64 years for individuals born between 1959 and 1962, 65 years for those born after 1962

Netherlands 66 years and 7 months

Poland 65 years for men, 60 years for women

Portugal 66 years and 7 months

Czech Republic 63 years and 10 months for men, and variable age based on the number of children raised, ranging from 60 years and 2 months to 63 years and 10 months for women

Romania 65 years for men, 61 years and 10 months for women

Slovakia 62 years and 10 months

Slovenia 65 years

Sweden Flexible from 62 years, full pension at 65 years

Are the French protesting for nothing? The argument that the French are always protesting or that they love to demonstrate is, however, ineffective. Although most of our European neighbors have a negative image of France, assuming it is an ungovernable state where protests are meaningless, the reality is quite different. Emmanuel Macron, who was challenged even during his trip to Amsterdam, ignited a fire in a country where the scent of sulfur has been lingering since the Yellow Vest crisis. Why does France refuse a retirement age of 64?

Why does France refuse a retirement age of 64: The real crisis of purchasing power!

Contrary to popular belief, the crisis of purchasing power did not begin with the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. Putin’s wild war for thrills is only a catalyst for a crisis whose first illustration was the Yellow Vest crisis. What were the demands of the Yellow Vests? The French who initially supported the movement never truly understood the meaning behind these yellow work marches. Was it just about fuel prices? No, the demands of the Yellow Vests were diverse and could be summarized in one sentence: the social contract is no longer respected.

To simplify, most of the Yellow Vests were working poor. While President Macron can boast of having the lowest unemployment rate in the past twenty years, this low rate conceals a genuine impoverishment of the working poor. Many Yellow Vests were full-time workers who could no longer make ends meet. During the Yellow Vest crisis, an interview was conducted with a single mother of three children. She implied that despite her full-time job, she could no longer meet her needs halfway through the month.

If a society cannot provide stability for these workers, then the social contract is no longer respected. We are not talking about the unemployed or a segment of the population that is not involved in the country’s activity. All these social struggles we have experienced over the past century have led us to a situation where working poor can no longer meet their needs or, at best, have no other expenses in a month beyond their primary expenditures.

What are paid vacations worth if you can no longer afford to go on vacation? What is a five-day workweek worth if the weekend is as empty as the holidays spent in front of the television? The improvement in living standards in the 1970s also created a situation where subsequent generations have a strong impression of living worse than their predecessors.

The crisis of purchasing power, and more generally, the standard of living, has created an atmosphere conducive to social crises. The first manifestation of this crisis was the Yellow Vests, and the second was the retirement crisis.

Living in society, the social contract assumes that every individual participating in the economy can live decently. Contrary to popular belief once again, the Arab revolutions were driven by economic, not political, demands. A street vendor had his working tool confiscated. Becoming a human torch, he set the Maghreb on fire.

Why does France refuse a retirement age of 64: The influence of COVID-19!

Prior to the last presidential election, France was under lockdown. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted significant disparities in French society. This is particularly evident among essential workers, often labeled as “the invisible” by the media, who had to go to work despite the risks involved. It is challenging to assess the damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis within this population since no targeted study has been conducted to date.

The crisis also heavily impacted the poorly housed individuals, who experienced the inequalities on a daily basis throughout the confinement period. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there were already 10 million poor people in France, according to the Abbé Pierre Foundation (living below the poverty line), and little attention was given to the plight of undocumented workers during this crisis. From those working undeclared jobs on the corner of a restaurant, these relatively large numbers of individuals were automatically excluded from partial unemployment benefits and were plunged into poverty.

There is one last aspect that politicians tend to overlook. The COVID-19 crisis has generated a new mindset, a sense that work is essential, but it is not an end in itself. Work is seen as a means, but not the ultimate purpose of a life that is also centered around family.

The retirement crisis is a consequence of a broader climate where the French believe that the social contract is no longer being respected. In this country marked by strife and unrest, the President has played the role of an arsonist.

C.E.O HELL SINKY, author, journalist, documentary

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