Hollande Rolls Back Retirement Age in France

Yahoo Contributor Network

French President Francois Hollande has stuck to his campaign pledge to scale back some of the austerity measures imposed on the nation by former President Nicolas Sarkozy's government. In a controversial move, Hollande pushed back the retirement age for some workers to the previous threshold of 60 years old (from Sarkozy's 62) on Wednesday, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The maneuver was approved by members of the president's newly-installed cabinet. Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine referred to the decision as "social justice," as quoted in the same report.

Here are some of the key details regarding Hollande's decision and its immediate impact.

* The move reverses a decision made by Sarkozy in 2010 to raise the national retirement age to 62.

* It doesn't affect everyone, however. The lowered retirement age is only valid for people who began working at the age of 18. A person must have put in at least 41 years, or 41.5 years depending on when they were born, of active employment before they are eligible for a state pension.

* The decision will be made official by the end of the month, according to AFP. It is expected to affect approximately 110,000 people in 2013, and cost the government 1.1 billion euros in that first year.

* That cost is due to be offset by a rise in employment and business taxes of 0.1 percent.

* Opponents of Hollande's Socialist party were quick to decry the move, according to the International Herald Tribune/New York Times, calling it a "political carrot" ahead of legislative elections due to take place in a few days.

* Jean-Francis Cope, who heads the U.M.P. party, told reporters on Wednesday that France didn't have the means to fund Hollande's plan. He also said that rolling back austerity measures puts France at risk of having its credit rating lowered and "tempts fate," as quoted by The Telegraph.

* Hollande's decision to roll back austerity measures flies in the face of predictions by global economists and the European Commission, both of which have previously warned France that it may not make necessary budgetary goals under those measures that had already been put in place. The European Commission itself has said that it is likely that the nation's current deficit and overspending will necessitate further cuts, according to Euronews.

* France had previously agreed to cut its deficit to within 4.5 percent of its GDP by the end of this year, and to within 3 percent of its GDP by the end of 2013.

Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler, and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.

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