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France’s Macron says protests will not stop reforms


Protests will not stop the pension reform or other policy changes, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday before unveiling a plan with 50 measures aimed at avoiding a water crisis this summer and in the coming years, according to Reuters.

The plan touches on a wide range of measures including how to re-use water, share water, and avoid leaks.

With this plan, Macron and his government are looking to move to other topics than the pension bill, which has triggered fierce protests across the country over the two months.

But he was welcomed in Savines-le-Lac in the Alpes, where he was due to gave his speech, by groups of protesters angry with the pension bill. One placard read “Macron resign!” and another “Take your pension, not ours.” Local media said two protesters were arrested.

Water is also a contentious topic in France.

Two men are in a coma after violent clashes on Saturday between protesters and police during an unauthorised demonstration against the construction of a giant water reservoir for farm irrigation in western France.

France’s worst drought on record last summer sharpened the debate over water resources in the European Union’s biggest agricultural producer.

Farmers say they need large reservoirs to be able to water their crops this summer, while environmental groups say these waste water and are a way for farmers to confiscate a common good.

“Protests are normal,” Macron told reporters, „but that does not mean we should stop.”

“Nothing justifies violence in a democratic society,” he said.