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French President says he wants solid ties with post-Brexit Britain

French President Emmanuel Macron delivering his New Year wishes during a televised address to the nation from the Elysee Palace in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivering his New Year wishes during a televised address to the nation from the Elysee Palace in Paris.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Mr. Macron also pledged to push through an overhaul of the pension system, after weeks of nationwide strikes by trade unions

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he wanted a strong relationship with post-Brexit Britain and also pledged to push through an overhaul of the pension system, after weeks of nationwide strikes by trade unions.

Speaking in his traditional televised New Year's eve address to the nation, Mr. Macron said: “The United Kingdom's departure from the European Union is a test for our country. I will strive to maintain a solid relationship between our two countries.”

Pension reforms

Mr. Macron said he expected his government to quickly find a compromise with unions on the reform, but without departing from the principles laid out by ministers.

Unions are trying to force the former investment banker to abandon his overhaul of France’s pension system with nationwide strikes since Dec. 5 that have crippled public transport.

“The retirement reform that I’ve committed myself to before you will be carried through because it is a project of social justice and progress,” he said in the prime-time televised address to the nation.

Mr. Macron wants to replace France’s current system of 42 different sector-specific pension schemes with a points-based system for all, which his government says would be fairer and more transparent.

While Mr. Macron’s government has rejected union calls to drop the reform altogether, it has offered concessions to a growing list of sectors as it seeks to defuse tensions.

“We will take into account difficult tasks so that those who do them can leave earlier,” he said.

Mr. Macron has so far refused to back down on plans to encourage people to work until they are 64 instead of the legal retirement age of 62, a key union demand.

Under his plans, workers would receive reduced pension rights if they retire before 64, unless they benefit from special exemptions due to their profession, like police officers or soldiers.

Far left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Twitter that Mr. Macron’s words were “a declaration of war on those who reject the reform”.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:04:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/french-president-says-he-wants-solid-ties-with-post-brexit-britain/article30447395.ece

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