PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday gave himself 100 days to heal the country after weeks of protests and anger at his unpopular plans to raise the retirement age, asking his government to open talks with unions on a wide range of issues.
In a televised speech two days after signing into law plans to increase the retirement age by two years to 64, Macron said he wanted his prime minister to propose measures on working conditions, law and order and education and health issues.
“On July 14, we must be able to take stock,” Macron said, referring to Bastille Day, France’s national day, often a milestone in French politics.
“We have ahead of us 100 days of appeasement, unity, ambition and action for France,” he said.
Macron has staked his reputation as a reformer on the pension changes, which he said were needed to avoid billions of euros of deficit each year by the end of the decade.
On Monday, he said he regretted the fact the changes were not supported by the broader public.
“Is this reform accepted? Obviously, not. Despite months of talks, a consensus wasn’t found, and I regret that. We must draw all the lessons from that,” he said.
Speaking immediately after Macron’s speech, the head of France’s largest union, the CFDT’s Laurent Berger, said Macron’s speech had been totally empty and failed to address the anger in the country.
“There’s just a sort of emptiness, there is nothing in there, we expected something else,” he said. REUTERS