More than 200 people arrested at protests in Paris

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Police used tear gas and water cannons to push back clashing protesters. Protests were also held in other French places. In Paris, about 6,000 people came out to protest against the pension reform initiated by the government. Clashes with police broke out in the city center and resulted in at least 217 detained on Thursday, March 16, reports dpa, citing French police. Tear gas and water cannons were also used to push back the protesters, who, among other things, threw various items and wooden pallets on fire at the police. Protests have also erupted in several other cities across the country, including Marseille, Dijon, Nantes, Rennes, Rouen, Grenoble, Toulouse and Nice. According to AFP, demonstrators smashed several shops in Marseille, clashes between protesters and law enforcement were also in Nantes, Rennes and Lyon. Controversial Pension Reform in France Earlier in the day, it became known that the pension reform in France was adopted bypassing Parliament. To pass a new law without a vote in the National Assembly, the French government enjoyed a special article of the Constitution. The bill should implement one of the key campaign promises of French President Emmanuel Macron – to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. This will be done in stages by 2030. Given the wide protests across the country, there was a high probability that the bill, supported by the French Senate, would be rejected by the National Assembly. Reform Features Among other things, the pension reform provides for an increase to 43 years of the minimum period for contributions to be made in order to get full pension. Many older people in France are now working beyond the retirement age of 62 to reach the required number of contributing years. However, people aged 67 are entitled to receive a pension in full, regardless of the period of deductions. This provision must survive. At the same time, the Macron government intends to increase the minimum pension to 1,200 euros per month. Trade unions consider the pension reform unfair and unjustifiably tough and call for a referendum. According to polls, two-thirds of French people oppose the changes proposed by the government.