France senate approves retirement reform amid protests

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[JURIST] The French Senate [official website, in French] on Friday approved [press release, in French] retirement reform legislation designed to keep the country’s pension system viable. The bill [text, in French; materials, in French], which passed by a 177-153 vote, increases the age at which individuals can retire from 60 to 62 while also raising the age of eligibility for full pension benefits from 65 to 67. Lawmakers contend that the legislation is necessary in order to maintain the system’s solvency. Debate over the bill has led to multiple strikes and protests across France, and, in the wake of its passage, union leaders have stated that additional strikes are forthcoming [AFP report] while legal challenges are pursued. The bill must now be reconciled with a draft adopted by the National Assembly [official website, in French], and officials expect final approval by Wednesday.

France has undertaken a series of controversial legislative initiatives in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the National Assembly adopted an immigration bill [JURIST report] that would strip criminals born in other countries of their French nationality if they have been convicted of violent crimes against police officers. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has criticized the bill, urging the French government to reject the proposal because it targets minority populations, particularly the Roma [JURIST news archive]. The Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] last month that would make it illegal to wear the Islamic burqa [JURIST news archive] or other full face veils in public, punishable by mandatory citizenship classes or a USD $185 fine. Opponents of the legislation may challenge the law [BBC report] in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg [official website], which has the ability to render a binding opinion on France.

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