France seeks dialogue to achieve pension reform

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, are risking a great reform, a milestone in the second five-year period of the tenant of the Élysée Palace. (GONZALO FUENTES /)

The great reform, postponed several times by Emmanuel Macronexpects to finally take place January 10, 2023. If the cycle of debates advances with the social partners and political forces, the presentation of the new pension scheme for Francewhich both involved the Republic Presidentalmost a milestone of his administration, will see the light.

By 2030, the measures to change the retirement age would generate 18,000 million euros of savings for the French coffers. In view of the deficit that must be covered, at least for government budgets, this leaves some 5 billion available for the numerous accompanying measures planned, such as the minimum pension, extension of careers or disability leave.

After a Minister councilwhere the political guidelines to achieve the agreements were defined, Macron invited his government to “be bold and remain attentive to the concerns of the French people”, to “put yourself in everyone’s place, at a time when we are reforming”, reported the government spokesman Olivier Veran during the meeting report.

Meanwhile, the details for the presentation of the “great reform” are finalized. Before this, the First minister, Elisabeth Bornewill meet with social representatives, meetings that although they will be open to proposals, will not prevent through political and social mobilization “on the street” from seeking to “roll back” the government initiative.

The main union sectors, which reject raising the retirement age to 65, received a message from Borne this week advising them that this threshold “is not a totem.” “There are other solutions that can also make it possible to achieve,” he told the French press, specifying the government’s objective is to seek the balance of the pension system for the year 2030.

Whether you opt for retirement at 65 or 64 yearsthe project will be accompanied by an acceleration of the increase in the listing period, 42 to 43 years. Both options would keep the pension system in the green. With a surplus, in 2030, close to 5,000 million euros. This combination is expected to be susceptible so that it is better accepted by a public opinion that has resisted Macron’s proposal for years.

“This reform has a double objective”, summarizes Olivier Dussoptthe Minister of Labor, in charge of the broad strokes of the project. The first is to “ensure the balance” of a “structurally deficient” system, which should again sink into the red in 2023 and register losses of up to 15,000 million euros in 2030 if the reform is not achieved. The second “to improve the system”, via “the level of small pensions”, the “prevention of professional burnout” and the consideration of “long careers”. This implies “financing new rights” for “employees and future retirees”.

Another central point, which the Executive defends, is to establish a minimum pension for all retirees seeking a full career. This threshold should represent at least 85% of the minimum wage, that is, €1,200 in 2023 when the reform comes into force.

Postponed in December, during his speech to the Republic, on the last day of 2022, Emmanuel Macron confirmed that “2023 will be the year of the pension reform”. For this, the Government acts quickly. The bill must be adopted by the Council of Ministers on January 23, 2023to be examined in Parliament.

Boiling social climate, deteriorating purchasing power and a reform that rejects public opinion.  On January 7 all
Boiling social climate, deteriorating purchasing power and a reform that rejects public opinion. On January 7th all the “yellow vests” are summoned to take to the streets of France. (Kamil Zihnioglu/)

Knowing that there is no legislative majority, the path of a new budget text is not ruled out to expedite deadlines using the article 49.3 that would allow the Executive to remove the project. The reform could be current starting in late summer 2023.

“What I would have liked is that the President of the Republic and the government came to seek social consensus to be able to impose the reform on the National Assembly where it does not have a majority,” said one of the trade unionists who went to Matignon to meet with the Prime Minister.

For several weeks the social sectors warn to the executive about the risks of a greater conflict. Within the executive and the companies of the unions that advance conflict, they wonder if this file can unleash massive strikes and violent demonstrations, especially taking the “yellow vests” to the streets.

The government is especially concerned about the locks that may arise in strategic sectors: public transport, refineries, nuclear power plants, among others. Especially with the approach of the CGT congress scheduled for March, which will also define its new leadership in the coming days.

In this sense, the daily le parisien raised the following question in an article: will 2023 see the return of the yellow vests? The question arises as calls to relaunch the movement on January 7 mount. Faced with a boiling social context, “all the yellow vests” are called to take to the streets this first Saturday of January “in all parts of France”, but especially “in the capital”, the Parisian newspaper remarked.

The slogan is expanded if it includes the rejection of public opinion against the pension reform but also against inflation, energy and fuel prices or the use of a constitutional article to bring out the “great reform”, an equivalent in other countries to a presidential decree.

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