Roundup: French PM set to unveil pension reform plans

PARIS, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) — Details of the pension reform, a major project of French President Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term, are to be presented to the public on Jan. 10 by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. The reform was part of Macron’s presidential campaign back in 2017.

On Jan. 3 and 4, Borne met with the country’s social partners for a final consultation. Based on its conclusions, Borne will unveil the plans, which will then be discussed by the Council of Ministers on Jan. 23, with a possible entry into force in late summer.

The government’s initial plan was to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 65 at a progressive rate of four months per year (63 in 2025, 64 in 2028 and 65 in 2031). The first generation concerned by the postponement of the retirement age will be those born in the second half of 1961.

Anticipating numerous criticisms of this measure, Macron proposed extending the legal retirement age to 64 years, with a longer contribution period.

However, both proposals are strongly opposed by the public. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Huffington Post, 70 percent of the respondents are opposed to extending the legal retirement age to 65, compared to 65 percent who opposed retirement at 64 years.

The government also plans to offer a minimum pension of 1,200 euros (1,291 U.S. dollars) — 85 percent of the minimum wage — for future retirees who had a complete career.

As only future retirees will benefit from this measure, criticism arises on the basis of equality for current retirees. Borne said this would be debated further in Parliament.

With its pension reform, the government also plans to increase the employability of senior citizens, which in France is lower than the average of European countries.

The proposal includes the creation of a “senior index,” to be negotiated in each professional field and published in each company with more than fifty employees.

The government also proposes the creation of a “bonus” to be granted to senior job seekers wishing to return to a job that pays less than what unemployment compensation offers.

The government would suspend all current special pension schemes, such as for the national railway company SNCF.

In his New Year address, Macron said that the pension reform was necessary to balance the pension system for the decades to come.

In 2021, France’s expenditure on the pension system equaled 13.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, the country’s Pensions Advisory Council (COR) said that the share of pension expenditure would rise sharply due to the sharp contraction in GDP and would vary between 14.2 percent and 14.7 percent between 2027 and 2032.

In a report published by the COR in September 2022, the pension system watchdog said that from 2022 to 2032, the country’s pension system would be in deficit.