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France

Pension reform: debates kick off with 22,000 amendments

A French lawyer holds a flare as he demonstrates during a strike against French government's pensions reform plans, in Nice, France.
A French lawyer holds a flare as he demonstrates during a strike against French government's pensions reform plans, in Nice, France. (REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

71 French members of Parliament will today start examining a controverisial pension reform bill in an ad-hoc commission. The opposition has submitted some 22,000 amendments.

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The 71 members of the Assemblée Nationale on this special commission have just two weeks to examine the 70 articles of the two pension reform bills which have fueled strikes and protests across France since 5 December 2019. The bills will then be subject to debate in Parliament on 17 February.

The far-left opposition party,La France Insoumise, which submitted 19,000 amendments admits that its move is in an obstructive one.

Opposition MPs deplored that they were given only six days to look into what they consider to be a particularly complex bill and go through a study-impact document of 1,029 pages.

The MPs received the bills on Thursday 24 January 2020 and had six days to submit their amendments by Thursday 30 January at the latest.

But MPs from the ruling La République en Marche party said they are "proud" to support the pension reform bill. And Prime minister Edouard Philippe announced that he doesn't fear the opposition's determination to counter this bill at all costs.

Vote of no confidence

Three left leaning opposition parties said that they would be ready to call for a vote of no confidence against the government if the parliamentary discussions appear to be going nowhere.

The Socialist party said that they hope French people will show "how fed up they are" in the municipal elections due at the end of March. "And the government will then have to give up".

The far-right Rassemblement National led by Marine Le Pen said they might join in the vote of no confidence.

The government is intent on having the pension reforms approved before August.

Lawyers strike

The SOS Retraites movement regrouping French professionals, including lawyers, doctors, nurses, pilots and more, are demonstrating today in Paris between Place de la Bastille and Opera against the government's pension reforms.

The professionals want to keep their own specific pension plans and refuse the goverment's single universal system based on points.

French lawyers have been on strike for the past three weeks. They claim that their contributions to the goverment's pension plan will rise to 28% of their salaries but reduce their pension to 1,400 euros to 1,000 euros per month.

Many younger lawyers feel that they might have to change career should the pension reforms go through as it will no longer be financially sustainable for them to continue practicing.

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