September 3, 2019 / 2:02 PM / 6 months ago

Macron to bring pension tsar into cabinet ahead of risky union talks

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France August 27, 2019. Yoan Valat/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron is drafting his special advisor on pension reform into government, giving Jean-Paul Delevoye added authority to negotiate with unions the most perilous leg of his reform drive so far.

Macron embarks this week on talks with unions on an overhaul of France’s convoluted pension system to plug a chronic deficit.

In an interview with regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, Delevoye, who submitted a report to the government before the summer break recommending the retirement age be pushed back two years, said he would continue his work at the cabinet table.

“I keep the same staff, the same office, and become the main negotiating partner with unions and employers and draft the future bill,” Delevoye was quoted as saying.

The Elysee palace did not reply to a request for comment.

Delevoye proposed in July pushing back the age for a full pension by two years to 64, with those choosing to stop working at 62 receiving lower benefits.

The age of retirement has long been an explosive issue in France. Wary of simmering public anger after months of anti-government protests this year, Macron said last week he preferred benefits to be determined by the duration of a person’s career, rather than the age at which they retire.

The talks on Thursday and Friday with uneasy union leaders and Prime Minister Philippe Edouard kick off wide-ranging consultations with professions like teaching and nursing on what could be a defining reform of Macron’s presidency.

Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Richard Lough and Ed Osmond

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