Retirement at 62 as Sarkozy savours success
NicolasSarkozy may want to keep the pen as a souvenir.
The unpopular French leader has raised France's retirement age to 62, scoring a much-needed victory after a showdown with unions. The measure became law yesterday, a day after he signed it. France now becomes the latest country in Europe where protesters have largely failed to halt a drive for austerity. Workers upset over austerity measures have repeatedly disrupted London's Tube subway and also shut down highways and even the Acropolis in Greece, to no avail.
Mr Sarkozy's government insisted the reform, requiring workers to stay on the job two years more, was needed to save France's pension system.
"(I am) fully aware that this is a difficult reform. But I always considered that my duty, and the duty of the government, was to carry it out," he said.
Mr Sarkozy is savouring success four years after his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, backed down on a reform that would have made it easier to hire -- and fire -- workers because of huge protests.
The minimum retirement age in France is now 62 instead of 60. Those who want to claim full pension benefits must now wait until age 67 instead of 65.
Mr Sarkozy has not yet announced whether he will run in the 2012 presidential election. But with the retirement fight behind him, he can now try to rebuild his popularity at home.
France has the highest life expectancy in Europe but still one of the lowest retirement ages, prompting Simon Tilford, of the Centre for European Reform, to predict that retirement will come up again before markets accept that France has its finances in order.