The war in Ukraine has caused earthquakes in Western economies, if a few weeks ago France endured intense strikes in the energy sector that recovered a wage increase, everything suggests new strikes on this occasion in the entire population. And it is that, Emmanuel Macron launches into the most arduous reform since he arrived at the Elysee, with which he intends to delay the minimum retirement age to guarantee the balance of the pension system, and he does it against all the unions, against the majority of public opinion and almost all opinion.
Its prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, will announce on Tuesday the details of what, already in her first term (2017-2022), she describes as “the mother of all reforms”, but which she had to leave by the wayside when the crisis broke out. of the coronavirus in 2020, and which has suffered successive postponements, the last one barely a month ago.
Borne’s latest consultations with unions and employers on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, which were intended to convey the image of a government open to discussions until the last moment, have only served to show that the train crash is inevitable and that the street pulse is going to start this month. All the unions unanimously, but also the left-wing opposition and the extreme right of Marine Parliamentary procedure at the beginning of February.
Laurent Berger, the leader of the French Confederation of Workers (CFDT), a union known for its negotiating spirit and for having committed to some of the great social reforms of recent years, made clear the lack of total understanding with the prime minister and her willingness to block Macron’s planes with joint actions with all the other plants.
“It is a reform that will make the system more unfair”, which will harm the “most modest” workers above all and “the toughest” in the last 30 years, said Berger, who recalled that from the beginning the CFDT has announced that it will not would accept the delay of the minimum retirement age.
Delay from 62 to 64 or 65 years
Going from the current 62 years to the 64 or 65 that the Executive is considering is the main point of the reform and by far the most controversial. Macron himself, when he prepared his campaign for the Élysée in 2016, thought of other changes and recognized that raising that minimum age would not be fair because it would harm those who had started working very young.
Hervé Boulhol, responsible for the report on public pensions from the OECD, explains to EFE that those 62 years for the minimum retirement age are “a little below the average” of the organization, which is 62.4 years (63 in Spain , for example).
But Boulhol points out that half of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have programmed reforms that together will raise that average to 63.7 years (it will rise to 65 years in Spain, 67 in Sweden or 68 in Italy), so in the absence of changes in France, this difference would become more significant.
Another problem that France has for financial sustainability is that from the age of 60 the percentage of those who continue working is one of the lowest in the club, and this is illustrated by the fact that the average age for effective exit from the labor market is 60.4 years for men and 60.9 for women in 2020. That is much less than the OECD average of 63.8 years for men and the European Union average of 62.6 years for men and 61.9 for women.
The right sets its conditions to support the reform
The Republicans (LR), the classic French right-wing party, is willing to provide support that is essential for the reform of the pensions of the Emmanuel Macron government, because they coincide in spirit, but they set conditions that translate into a series of of concessions.
In an interview published this Sunday by Le Journal du Dimanche, two days after the Executive presented the details of the reform, the president of LR, Éric Ciotti, reproaches Macron for the “doubts” and “reversals” in this matter since he He arrived at the Élysée in 2017, which led to the loss of “extremely precious time”. He reproaches him that now “to make up for lost time, he is proposing in the midst of an economic and social crisis a reform that appears too serious to the French.”
That is why Ciotti has asked Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne this week, as she did before Christmas, to “mitigate the brutality of the reform.” LR wants it to go to 64 years, and not to 65 as initially contemplated, and that this be done in a very staggered way, until 2032.
Without the reform, red numbers
The Pension Orientation Council (COR), an independent public body that prepares technical analyzes to feed an informed debate in France that are the basis of discussion between the government and the social partners, predicts that the one-off surplus of the system in the last two years will be permanently invested.
The COR anticipates, specifically, a pension deficit that in the next ten years will mean between five and eight tenths of the annual gross domestic product (GDP) and that the red numbers will continue in the period of their projections until 2050.
The Minister of Finance, Gabriel Attal, calculated that, without reform, the public debt was obtained by half a trillion euros in 25 years. And reject what some unions and left-wing parties propose, increasing employer contributions, because he estimates that this would make companies less competitive and sentence tens of thousands of jobs, in addition to dragging wages down.
The OECD, in its December 2021 report, calculated that the relative weight of public pensions in France, which with 14.8% of GDP was already the third highest among member countries in 2018-2020, only behind Greece and Italy (in Spain it was 12.3%, it will increase at least until 2040, when it would come to represent 15.2% of GDP.