While skies outside are grey, wintry and windy, planning the garden allows ideas and dreams of summer sun.
Meanwhile the government concerns in Paris appear to remain around reforms of the multifarious pension systems and to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 years in France.
Three Pillar Pensions
With three pillars – the state pension, compulsory supplementary pension and voluntary private pensions – there are 15 million residents out of France’s 67 million inhabitants currently drawing a state pension. There are also special pension arrangements for a variety of private and state sectors, such as the railways.
Among the plans which he has vaunted since his first term in 2018, President Emmanuel Macron wants to see an end to the rules which see some of the state railway’s 200,000 workers retiring on a full pension at the age of 52, up to 10 years before most other French workers. Macron wants a single system for all.
Despite the overall complexity and the fact it is a point-based system – each year, an individual’s contributions are converted to retirement pension points and added to their account – the focus in government statements and parliamentary discussions remains on the age of retirement.
A series of strikes affecting transport, energy, education and public services continued into March with concerns that the reform represents a more general attempt to reverse social rights achieved in previous decades. Young people have been particularly evident during the street demonstrations against the reform to date voicing associated worries for the environment and quality of life in France. The focus for a longer working life, producing more at the expense of the environment has many young people expressing opposition to this vision for the country’s future.
Hundreds of cranes fly over France in February from their winter homes in Spain and Northern Europe to their summer quarters in northern Europe.