Paris (CNN) The city is heavily guarded Paris is the capital of France The country faces a crucial judgment on the constitutionality of divisive changes to France’s pension system.
The Constitutional Council in Paris, France’s equivalent of the US Supreme Court, is barred from making a decision. Retirement age in France Increased from 62 to 64.
An expert on French constitutional law told CNN that the police action to protect the court was unprecedented. “As far as I can remember, I’ve never seen pictures like this before,” said Laureline Fontaine.
Large protests have paralyzed the country this year against French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal, which has angered opposition lawmakers and unions. The streets of Paris are littered with uncollected garbage.
There are several possible outcomes to Friday’s ruling. If the law is greenlit, it will go into effect in September. Early retirees will have to wait an extra three months for their state pension. With regular, incremental increases, the retirement age will reach 64 in 2030.
There may also be a partial strike of the Act. If only part of it is deemed unconstitutional, the court can choose to pass the rest of the law into law. It will still be seen as a victory for Macron, who can offer dialogue to the unions.
If the court finds the law unconstitutional, it cannot be enforced. That would be impossible and a political earthquake for Macron, whose government used special constitutional powers to pass the law without a direct vote.
The House will also decide on Friday whether to allow a referendum on the law as requested by the opposition.
Macron has argued that reforms to public finances are necessary and this week insisted that “the country must continue to move forward”.
Thursday marked the 12th day of nationwide protests against the proposals. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets but the interior ministry’s turnout — 380,000 — was nearly 200,000 less than in the previous round of protests.
In Paris some protesters forced their way into the headquarters Luxury conglomerate LVMHA union leader told CNN, “If Macron wants to find money to fund the pension system, he needs to come here to find it.”
Although the protests are mostly peaceful, they have also seen violent clashes.
The high retirement age still puts France below the norm in Europe and many developed economies, where the age at which full pension benefits apply is 65 and is increasingly moving towards 67.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, the retirement age is between 66 and 67, depending on the year you were born. Current legislation envisages a further rise from 67 to 68 in Britain between 2044 and 2046 (although the timing of this rise is subject to review and change).
State pensions in France are more generous than elsewhere. At nearly 14% of GDP in 2018, the country’s spending on state pensions is higher than other countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Saskya Vandoorne reported from Paris and Sophie Tanno wrote in London. CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Oliver Briscoe contributed reporting.