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Pension reform: what are the points of the project that crystallize the debates?


The “red line” is, in political newspeak, among the most popular concepts in these times of social conflict over pensions. One organization does not want to hear about an increase in contributions, another believes that exemptions are needed for long careers, and so on. We have tried to identify at least some of these insurmountable desired limits in the context of the pension reform presented by the government of Elisabeth Borne.

Age: 64, this “is no longer negotiable” according to the Prime Minister

→ The retirement age will be pushed back from 62 to 64 if the reform is passed as it stands; it also accelerates the “Touraine calendar” of the 2014 reform, which gradually increases the number of quarters to contribute according to one’s year of birth.

Oppositions: this is the most emblematic point of the reform, the one that upsets its opponents the most. The trade unions oppose it, as do the opposition groups in the Assembly, with the exception of the deputies Les Républicains (LR). Several hundred amendments have been tabled to repeal this postponement of the retirement age, included in Article 7, and 4,600 in all concerning the latter and its other provisions – such as the 172 quarters of contribution (i.e. forty-three years) of the Touraine reform which should only apply to those born after 1er January 1973, finally it will be eight years earlier, the 1er January 1965.

The government : Elisabeth Borne does not intend to discuss the postponement of the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. “It is necessary to ensure the balance of the system”declared, Sunday, January 29, the Prime Minister, and it is “the compromise that we proposed after hearing the employers’ organizations and trade unions”. Initially, the age of 65 was mentioned by the Head of State, before giving up a year of contribution and reaching 64, after negotiation with his MoDem ally François Bayrou.

Increasing contributions: a “red line” for the government

→ In order to guarantee the balance of the system, it is technically possible to increase employer and/or employee contributions rather than lengthen the contribution period.

Oppositions: several political figures have proposed increasing the contributions of employees and companies to improve the financing of the pension system: 4.50 euros per month for Yannick Jadot (Europe Ecology-The Greens, EELV), “2 or 3 euros” monthly for Cyril Chabanier, President of the CFTC.

Several amendments have been tabled to emphasize that the deficit of the current system will not exceed 0.5 to 0.8 points of GDP by 2032, before a gradual return “in balance by 2070”as in that of the deputy of the Rhône Marie-Charlotte Garin (New People’s Ecological and Social Union, Nupes). A deficit that could be curbed by increasing the shares paid respectively by employees and by their employers.

The government : questioned about the activation of this lever to make up for future deficits, the government has shown itself to be inflexible, with the totem of not “not increase the cost of labor”. It is “a red line”, say again Mme Terminal, for example on January 3 on Franceinfo.

Duration of contribution for long careers: a totem for Les Républicains

→ Without a derogation, employees who started working before the age of 21 could have to contribute more than the 44 years provided for by the reform to avoid the discount.

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Oppositions: the executive vice-president of the Republicans, Aurélien Pradié, believes “that it is unfair” to make employees leave at the age of 64 when they started working before the age of 21. The deputy for Lot warned the government that this was a “principle [qui] is not negotiable”. LR deputies are essential to the government to obtain a majority on the pension text. They are therefore pushing for employees who started working at the age of 16 to 20 to be able to leave after forty-three years of contribution and not forty-four, as provided for in the reform.

This is also the meaning of a amendment tabled by MP LR Ian Boucard (Territoire de Belfort), which evokes a reform “brutal and unjust” which will have harmful consequences for those “who have had long, choppy careers or arduous jobs”. There are also amendments of the same order elsewhere in the Hemicycle, like that of Alexis Corbière (La France insoumise-Nupes, Seine-Saint-Denis) which asks to exclude the “food vendors” of this reform, of the fact that they exercise in « retail stores [qui] are high-risk workplaces..

The government : Matignon makes it known that his project is to “to comfort” the long career system, by offering early departure without a discount. The original text of the bill provides “the taking into account of the quarters acquired under the old-age insurance of the stay-at-home parent and the old-age insurance of carers for the benefit of early retirement for long careers, within a limit of four quarters”or one year.

Employment of employees at the end of their career: the “senior index” ruffles employers

→ France is below the European average for employment of 55-64 year olds. The bill proposes the creation of a “senior indexes” for’“objectivize the place of seniors in business”.

Oppositions: making the French contribute longer does not make sense if a majority of them are unemployed during their last years of working life, believes the opposition. Several amendments have been tabled in order to delete the article creating this mechanism, on the grounds that it is not accompanied by any obligation of result. It is built on the model of the “professional equality” index created in 2019 and which, according to a deletion amendment of EELV (rejected in committee), “quickly showed its inability to have a truly transformative impact on business practices to effectively reduce inequalities in the world of work”.

For its part, the Medef is firmly opposed to it, when the employee unions consider that it is not sufficient as it is proposed and that it does not fulfill the objective set to promote the employment of seniors. .

The government : this system is able to promote the employment of the oldest employees by obliging companies with at least 300 employees to publish each year an indicator of the employment of their older employees – an amendment of the majority proposes to lower this figure to 50 employees.

The principle is that companies must also detail the actions they have implemented to promote the employment of this age category. Employers who do not comply would have to pay a “contribution based on a percentage of payroll”.

Review clause for the MoDem and LR

→ With a review clause to assess the reform at the end of the five-year term, the “pill” could be easier to swallow.

Oppositions: MoDem and LR have never hidden it, they are in favor of a – liberal – reform of pensions. Nevertheless, there is a measure which is unanimous even at Edouard Philippe (Horizon): the introduction of a review clause in 2027 in order to have the reform evaluated by the pension monitoring committee and to consider the continuation of its application.

A dozen amendments have been tabled in this sense by the MoDem, LR and the members of the Libertés, Indépendants, Outre-mer et Territoires group.

The date of entry into force: a question of “acceptability” according to LR

→ Postponing the date of entry into force would make the reform more acceptable.

Oppositions: in the current draft, the reform is to come into force on 1er September 2023, but Olivier Marleix, boss of LR deputies, asks to wait until 1er January 2024 in a “concern for acceptability, rhythm” for social security. This is a request that is not likely to be heard because, as reminded The echoesa Social Security financing bill must have a financial impact on the current year.

Possible discussion regarding women’s trimesters

→ Postponing the legal age by two years will mathematically reduce the benefit of the quarters acquired by women for maternity; a derogation could allow a rebalancing in their favour.

The right : the deputies of the MoDem, but also certain members of Renaissance and LR, deplore that the postponement of the legal age reduces the benefit of the quarters acquired for maternity. They propose to lower by two quarters the legal age of retirement per child in order to remedy this “unfair”.

The government : In his interview of January 29the head of government was not hostile to a discussion in Parliament on a better use of quarters ” education “ And ” maternity “ obtained by women during their career, without giving further details.

Mme Borne announced to be “attentive to the situation of these women who have difficult careers”She ” look at “ who are these women who have difficulty to use [ces trimestres] full » to compensate for the level of their retirement.

A full rate at age 65 rather than at age 67 in certain cases

The full retirement age is currently set at 67; it is not intended to be changed: “The age of cancellation of the discount is maintained at 67 years” in the bill.

The MoDem, an ally of the government, considered lowering it to 65 for “contributors who have had a career cut short – due to illness, dismissal, maternity, “caregiver” leave”. It was a question of proposing it also for “insured persons aged 65 who are victims of economic redundancy”. These amendments were deemed inadmissible.