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French President Emmanuel Macron stated on Wednesday that protests in France and the Netherlands are an inevitable social cost as governments in both countries push forward with reforms. Macron acknowledged the need to accept controversy and build a path for the future while speaking to the French community in Amsterdam during a state visit. The visit has been met with small protests against Macron’s unpopular pension reform, which seeks to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The reform has sparked massive and violent protests in France, while in the Netherlands, farmers and their supporters have protested for months against plans to curb nitrogen oxide emissions. A populist, pro-farmer political party made significant gains in recent provincial elections in the Netherlands. Macron addressed the presence of a strong, profound protest movement in the Netherlands, indicating that protests were not unique to France.

During his visit, a protester ran towards Macron shouting before being tackled by a military officer and police. Macron’s wife, Brigitte, and Dutch Queen Maxima visited a Dutch foundation that works to improve the mental health of young people in the Netherlands, followed by a tour of the Anne Frank House museum. French and Dutch ministers also signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation in the development of digital technology and sustainable industrial sectors. The Pact for Innovation and Sustainable Growth aims to promote partnerships in areas including semiconductors, quantum, critical raw materials, sustainable mobility, and energy infrastructure. Macron is set to hold talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and visit a sell-out exhibition of paintings by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum later in the day.

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