Widespread protests against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms in France have led to the indefinite postponement of King Charles III's state visit. This has damaged the new monarch's debut on the international stage. However, since he ascended the throne in September, Charles and his wife Camilla will still travel to Germany on Wednesday, originally scheduled as the second leg of their first overseas trip. The original six-day visit to France and Germany was meant to showcase efforts to rebuild relations between Britain and its European neighbours after years of disagreements over Brexit. However, due to the possibility of confrontations with protesters and piles of garbage in Paris, officials in France and Britain had to reconsider their plans. Why are there protests in France? On Thursday, travel in France was disrupted as protesters blocked train stations, airports, refineries, and ports, resulting in over 250 organized protests nationwide. Union leaders praised the "significant" mobilization. In Rennes, scuffles broke out between some participants and police, who used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin condemned "unacceptable assaults and damage" at a state building and a police station in Lorient. High-speed and regional trains, the Paris metro, and public transportation systems in other major cities were disrupted. Approximately 30% of flights at Paris Orly Airport were cancelled, and the Eiffel Tower and Versailles Palace were closed. Protesters staged blockades on major highways and interchanges to slow traffic around big cities. Since January, these events were the ninth round of nationwide demonstrations and strikes called by France's eight main unions. Social unrest in France also affects King Charles III's first overseas trip as monarch scheduled for the next week, with striking workers refusing to provide red carpets and garbage piling up in Paris streets. Last week, the French government invoked a constitutional provision to get the pension bill adopted without the approval of lawmakers, and the account must now pass a review by France's Constitutional Council before becoming law. Macron's government survived two no-confidence votes in the lower chamber of parliament on Monday. The president believes France's retirement system needs to be modified to keep it financed. Still, opponents propose other solutions, including higher taxes on the wealthy or companies, which Macron says would harm the economy.
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