The government of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, finally approved this Monday his controversial pension reform, against which more than a million people demonstrated in various protests. The initiative is now starting its parliamentary process as protests continue against the changes to the system, especially by trade unions.
Despite the majority rejection of a large part of public opinion, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to postpone the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and to bring forward to 2027 the increase in the contribution years needed to collect a full pension (of 42 to 43). The French retirement age is one of the lowest among its European partners, where the average ranges between 65 and 67 years.
“The age measures we adopt are those that will allow us to balance the system [de pensiones] in 2030″, the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, defended at a press conference, acknowledging a “disagreement” on these points with the unions.
The Government relies to justify its reform on the estimates of the Pension Guidance Council (COR), an independent public body, which predicts that without changes the current scheme will go into the red, which will be between 10,000 and 15,000 million euros a year by 2030, equal to 3% of pension expenditure.
The plenary session of the National Assembly (lower house) will start debating the bill from February 6, before it reaches the Senate (upper house). Left-wing parties and the far-right opposition have already announced they will vote against. To approve it, the ruling party, which lost its absolute majority in June, could count on the support of Los Republicanos (conservative right), in favor of a reform, or resort to two controversial mechanisms to try to adopt it without questioning it vote.
“I hope the government with the legislators (…) can work on the text and fix it,” President Macron said on Sunday, who nevertheless asked for “advance” since there have already been changes since the 65-year delay that occurred proposed during the election campaign.
This reform is one of the key measures the 45-year-old head of state promised during his re-election campaign in April, after the Covid-19 pandemic forced him to bury a first attempt. The eight main unions are against it and have called a new day of protests on January 31 after last Thursday’s success. “We hope to do better,” CGT leader Philippe Martinez told RTL, LCI and Le Figaro media on Sunday.
The retirement age in the European Union’s (EU) second-largest economy is one of the lowest in Europe and, if the reform goes ahead, France would be closer to 65 than Spain or 67 than Denmark.
Yesterday the French government reiterated that it is willing to accept some adjustments in its plan to change the pension system on condition that the objective of financial balance in 2030 can be maintained. But it clarified that it will not move towards delaying the minimum retirement from 62 to 64 years, because it is the equilibrium condition. “Our goal is to return to balance by 2030”, underlined the Minister of Labor at the press conference after the Council of Ministers in which the project was adopted.
On the question of whether, as President Macron has hinted, the text can be modified in the parliamentary process which begins now and, especially since February 6 in the plenary session of the National Assembly, Dussopt insisted on the fact that “many requests” raised are been integrated.
In particular, he recalls that the increase in the minimum pension for all those who have covered the entire contribution period to 85% of the minimum wage (about 1,200 euros per month) will be applied not only to future pensioners, but also to current ones. . But when asked if this change will also affect the minimum retirement age, he replied that the country needs to achieve “financial equilibrium” in its system.
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