Friday

18th Aug 2017

French strike highlights EU's pension debacle

  • French metro: public transport is expected to grind to a halt on Thursday (Photo: dalbera)

France is bracing itself for a day of chaos as seven unions prepare to strike against government plans to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 by 2018.

Public transport, air traffic and schools across France are all set to be affected by the 24-hour shutdown on Thursday (23 September), the second such protest in a matter of weeks.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Organisers hope even more people will take to the streets this time, after at least 1.1 million citizens turned out to oppose President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan on 7 September.

Despite indications he is willing to make marginal concessions, Mr Sarkozy has said he is determined to stick to the blueprint that will also push back the age for those who want to ensure full retirement benefits from 65 to 67.

As French people live longer, the pensions system is set to run up annual deficits of €50 billion by 2020 unless changes are made, the government has warned. Paris is keenly aware that financial markets and Brussels are clamouring for budgetary deficit cuts.

The country's Socialist opposition party continues to oppose the retirement age increase after the pension Bill was passed in parliament's lower house last week, with the fight now set to move to the Senate.

Thursday's strike comes hot on the heels of a new piece of research by insurer Aviva Europe which says European workers need to save €1,900 billion more each year if they hope to retire with pensions that will maintain their current standard of living.

Britain tops the table of under-savers, with its citizens needing to squirrel away an extra €12,300 a year on average if they wish to avoid an old age of reduced financial comfort.

Citizens on the island nation are closely followed by their German counterparts who need to save an extra €11,600, according to the study, followed by the Irish on €9,000, French €7,700, Spaniards €6,900 and Russians on €5,700.

Aviva warns that the problem is more acute for older people who have less time to top up their savings, while European citizens on lower incomes may have considerable difficulty setting aside more money than they currently do.

In a Green Paper in July, the European Commission warned that Europe's pension situation had worsened as a result of the recent financial crisis, suggesting that retirement ages should automatically increase inline with rising life expectancy. This would help de-politicise the decision said the EU executive.

The paper also noted that, whereas currently there are four people of working age for everyone over 65, by 2060, this number will be cut in half.

Brussels keen for 'automatic' hikes in retirement age

Keen to push forward with raising the retirement age right across the EU, but wary of the potential backlash from trade unions, Brussels wants to take the decision out of the political sphere and create an automatic legal system instead.

Airbnb too 'different' to pay EU tax

US home rental firm said its “model is unique” because most of the money stays in pockets of local people, as France and Germany prepare EU tax crackdown.

Greece looking at bond market return

Greece could issue 3-year bonds as early as this week, for the first time in three years, amid mixed signs from its creditors and rating agencies.

EU cautious with German diesel plan

The European Commission welcomed the German carmakers' pledge to update software in diesel cars, but is waiting for details on how emissions will be reduced.

News in Brief

  1. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  2. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  3. Russian power most feared in Europe
  4. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  5. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  6. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  7. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  8. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides