Top French court approves unpopular plan to raise retirement age to 64

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports from Paris after France’s Constitutional Council approved an unpopular plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64

Words by Multimedia Producer Lily Ford

France's Constitutional Council has approved an unpopular plan to raise the retirement age to 64.

The decision marks a victory for President Emmanuel Macron after three months of mass protests over the legislation that have damaged his leadership380,000 people were estimated to have marched on Thursday alone, according to French police.

The move is likely to enrage unions and other opponents of the pension plan, including protesters gathered in spots around France on Friday evening as the decision came down.

The council rejected some other measures in the pension bill, but the higher age was central to Macron’s plan and the target of protesters’ anger.

Macron can enact the bill within 15 days.

What is the Constitutional Council?

The body's role is to make sure a law is in line with France's Constitution prior to enactment.

In this case, it comes after Macron's centrist government forced the pension bill through parliament without a vote, using a special constitutional power.

The council is currently composed of three women and six men aged between 64 and 77, and is headed by former socialist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius.

Most members are centrists and conservatives, including two named by Macron.

The council's discussions and votes are not made public.

President Macron was pictured at the Notre Dame on the fourth anniversary of its devastating fire. Credit: AP

What has President Macron said?

Ahead of the decision, Macron invited French unions to meet with him next week.

He said last month he wants pension reform to be implemented by the end of the year.

Some political observers suggest he could try to appease critics with a government reshuffle in the coming weeks or months.

On Friday, he was photographed in Paris visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron, on the fourth anniversary of its devastating fire.

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