Macron says pension reform plan will be carried out in defensive New Year’s message

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Despite widespread strikes that have crippled French transportation for much of December, Emmanuel Macron was defiant, stating that his pension reform plan would be “carried out”. In his New Year’s address, Macron said he hoped that a compromise could be found as he stood by his plan for retirement reform that would notably raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Transportation throughout France, and especially in Paris has been heavily disrupted due to widespread strikes over the proposed reform that would also move the country from 42 special retirement programs to a single system. “Must we give up on changing our country, our daily life? No. Because it would be abandoning those whom the system has already abandoned, it would be betraying our children, their children after them, who would then have to pay the price for our renunciations,” Macron said. Macron added that he hoped for a compromise. The French government is set to meet with unions in early January to discuss the plan but many observers said Macron sounded defensive in his speech. “I will not give in to pessimism or immobility,” the president added. Strikes recently entered their fourth week, with some unions calling for the withdrawal of the government’s plan. The strike is now the second-longest in French history and is on course to surpass the longest. Read more: Macron under pressure as French strike heads for the record books