The French Senate has approved President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to reform the country’s pension system, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
The upper house of parliament passed the bill on Thursday with 193 votes for and 114 against, after a two-week debate that was marked by opposition filibusters and amendments.
The bill will now go to a joint committee of lawmakers from both houses to draft a final version, which will then be submitted to the National Assembly for a vote. The government hopes to have the bill adopted by April.
However, the reform faces strong resistance from trade unions, opposition parties and public opinion. Thousands of people have taken part in nationwide protests and strikes since December 2020, denouncing the reform as unfair and unnecessary.
The protesters argue that raising the retirement age will penalize workers who started their careers early or have physically demanding jobs. They also fear that the reform will pave the way for further cuts in pensions and social benefits.
The government says the reform is needed to simplify the complex pension system, which has 42 different regimes for different professions and to make it more sustainable in the face of an aging population and rising public debt.
The government also claims that the reform will make the pension system more fair and equitable, by introducing a universal points-based system that will apply to all workers regardless of their sector or status.
President Macron has staked his political credibility on pushing through the reform, which he sees as a key part of his agenda to modernize France and boost its competitiveness. He has faced criticism for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and other social issues.