French people hoping to preserve their retirement benefits took to the streets in a nationwide protest on Wednesday as a committee of lawmakers meeting behind closed doors validated the wording of President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension plan.
Macron had the means on the joint Senate and National Assembly committee to advance his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, but it remains to be seen whether it can command a parliamentary majority. If not, Macron would have to impose the unpopular changes unilaterally.
Unions are hoping some 200 protests across the country will demonstrate the political consequences to the change, which Macron has promoted as central to his vision for making the French economy more competitive.
Economic challenges have prompted widespread unrest across Western Europe. In Britain on Wednesday, teachers, junior doctors and public transport staff were striking for higher wages to match rising prices. And Spain’s left-wing government joined with labor unions to announce a “historic” deal to save its pension system by raising social security costs for higher wage earners.