Pensions: the scenario of a reform in the fall is becoming clearer

Posted Sep 14, 2022, 7:04 PMUpdated Sep 15, 2022, 4:36 PM

The scenario of a pension reform voted in the fall is becoming clearer. The government does not hesitate from now on to officially evoke the idea of ​​changing the rules of the game within the framework of the next Social Security budget. And for forty-eight hours, he has multiplied consultations with the parliamentarians of the majority, to take the temperature and prepare the ground promised for electric debates in the Assembly.

“All avenues are being studied, including the avenue that would lead us to propose a reform through the Social Security financing bill” (PLFSS), said government spokesman Olivier Véran. Wednesday, after the Council of Ministers. This track “would not exclude that there is a broad consultation of all of civil society and social partners”, assured the former Minister of Health. Except that it would not be a question of first measures but of the whole of the reform which would be voted in the fall.

Tight schedule

And the schedule is tight. The government must present the budgetary texts on September 26. The pension reform will not appear in the initial draft of the Social Security financing bill for 2023. It would be, if Emmanuel Macron, who is pushing for this solution even if the decision is not taken, to proceed by amendment. Without waiting, the executive is testing the parliamentarians of its own camp.

The subject hosted the majority breakfast on Tuesday morning at Matignon. On Wednesday morning, party leaders – Stanislas Guerini (Renaissance – ex-En Marche), Edouard Philippe (Horizons) and François Bayrou (Modem) discussed the issue with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. At the same time, his chief of staff, Aurélien Rousseau, received the deputies of the majority of the Social Affairs Committee to prepare the PLFSS. And there was again a lot of talk about pensions.

“Opinions are divided”, testifies a participant, quite tempted by the fast scenario. François Bayrou opposes a boost that would jeopardize the National Council for Refoundation. On the contrary, this idea is gaining ground within the Renaissance group, even if disagreements are expressed.

This Thursday, the general rapporteur for the Social Security budget, Stéphanie Rist (Renaissance), expressed her support for the accelerated scenario. “I believe this reform is necessary” and it would be “coherent” to pass it in the next few weeks “in relation to the objective of full employment and at a time when we need to be able to finance new rights as for the old age,” she told AFP. An important position since the MP for Loiret would be the rapporteur for the text.

Emmanuel Macron himself took the temperature of the deputies of the majority members of the finance committee, Thursday morning. Again with mixed opinions on the side of elected officials.

Edouard Philippe, who had campaigned in vain at the start of the first five-year term for a rapid increase in the retirement age, should speak this Friday in Fontainebleau during the parliamentary days of the Horizons group. A long-awaited review. Elisabeth Borne will also speak on this occasion.

Until then cautious about the implementation of the pension reform, the executive has shown itself since Monday to be much more determined to move forward, after the will expressed by the Head of State to carry out this project, despite fierce opposition from the unions.

A lasting deficit system

The Head of State wants to maintain the timetable for entry into force in the summer of 2023, arguing the savings to be made to invest in ecological transition, health and school. To justify its reform, it can rely on the analyzes of the Pensions Orientation Council, which anticipates a pension system that will be permanently in deficit.

Another option that the PLFSS would be to wait until the beginning of 2023 for a work-pension bill, with passage to Parliament in the spring, opening consultations by then. “But it is not at all certain that the social climate is more favorable, on the contrary”, points out one of the pilots of the reform. In addition, “to concert and seek ways to an agreement, you need interlocutors opposite”. However, the CFDT is opposed to an increase in the retirement age, and Laurent Berger does not have a mandate to discuss an increase in the contribution period either, his central body having hardened its position at its last congress in June.

On the content of the reform, the game remains open. “The operational modalities” are not “known to date”, underlined Olivier Véran. The track of accelerating the increase in the contribution period provided for by the Touraine reform (at the rate of 1 quarter every three years) nevertheless comes up with insistence. But going beyond 43 years of contributions seems unlikely. And the simple acceleration of the Touraine calendar would not be enough financially.

There would therefore be added the increase in the legal age from 62 to 63 or more probably 64, a measure that continues to hold the rope. These parametric measures would be accompanied by an increase in the minimum contribution to 1,100 euros. The site of the employment of seniors could open in parallel, with measures integrated later in the labor law.

To have the PLFSS adopted, the government is in any case convinced that it will have to go through article 49.3. By adding a pension reform component, it would embarrass the right, while LR has been pleading for years for an increase in the legal age. The meeting with the social partners scheduled for next Monday at the Ministry of Labor promises to be tense.

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