Meeting behind closed doors in a room at the Palais-Bourbon, the seven deputies and seven senators of the joint joint committee (CMP) agreed, Wednesday afternoon, March 15, on a common text to reform pensions. This compromise, already negotiated for a few days between the presidential majority and the right, will have been acquired at the cost of costly concessions to the Republicans. The government seemed willing to accept them to ensure that the new version of the text collects a majority the next day in the Senate and then in the National Assembly, while taking care not to empty the reform of its meaning.
Because to “guarantee the balance of the pension system by 2030”, as government spokesperson Olivier Véran repeated on Wednesday, the reform must still not cost more than the savings it was. supposed to achieve.
Contested by the unions, the government’s initial observation was simple, which estimated the system’s deficit at 13.5 billion euros in 2030. It is therefore this sum that the reform should be used to save. Hence the choice to postpone the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, a measure against which the unions are fighting, and which should bring in 17.7 billion euros in 2030.
The initial project: 300 million surplus
The executive had from the outset accompanied it with more social measures to mitigate the harshest effects of the transition to 64 years. He had thus maintained the retirement age at 62 in the event of disability or incapacity (cost: 3.1 billion) or set up medical monitoring to allow those who have a difficult job to access more easily initially for incapacity.
The government project also planned to facilitate gradual retirement, to grant quarterly contributions to carers, but also to raise the level of pensions and strengthen the “long career” system for those who started contributing before the age of 20. That is a total of 4.8 billion in support expenditure.
With an initial deficit of 13.5 billion, 17.7 billion in savings then 4.8 billion in new expenditure, the account was therefore not there. To make up for the missing 500 million euros, the government therefore had the idea of transferring 800 million euros of contribution from the accident at work-occupational disease (AT-MP) branch to the old-age branch. In the end, therefore, there remained 300 million euros of surplus for the pension system.
Coming out of the Senate: a regime with a deficit of 450 million in 2030
Except that, between the presentation of its reform, on January 10, and its arrival in the National Assembly on January 23, the government had to make some additional concessions to seduce the Republicans. In particular on the promise of a minimum pension of €1,200 for those who have contributed all their careers to at least the minimum wage. Or on long careers, extended to all those who started working before the age of 21. Accompanying measures then amount to 5.9 billion euros.
Throughout the parliamentary discussion, the concessions to the right accumulated, nibbling all the hoped-for gains from the reform. The additional counterparties released to the National Assembly will thus amount to 850 million euros, including 700 million for long careers. The Senate has also put its paw, with 450 million euros in additional support measures (including 300 million for the surcharge on pensions for mothers who have reached 43 years of contribution before age 64).
Additional revenue is certainly planned: 300 million euros levy on conventional termination benefits for seniors, 100 million hoped for thanks to the fight against social fraud, 450 million additional transfers from AT-MP contributions. The Senate also adopted the “CDI senior”, making it possible to exempt from family contributions the employment of a person over 60 years of age (cost: 800 million euros for the family branch). Coming out of the Senate, the last known official figure, the pension budget showed a deficit of 400 to 450 million by 2030, the government then estimated.
The conditions of the right
On Wednesday, in the CMP, the senators made the “senior CDI” a sine qua non condition for adopting the compromise. Its cost should nevertheless be seriously reduced: this contract, the outlines of which will be negotiated in the professional branches, will only be experimental until 2026, and reserved for the long-term unemployed. The premium for mothers has also been preserved.
The senior index, to which the government is firmly attached, has also been maintained, the CMP choosing the senatorial option to impose it only on companies with more than 300 employees with an obligation to negotiate in the event of a poor rating or, failing that, to set up an action plan. However, no sanction seems to be foreseen apart from the case of non-publication of the index.
But it is on long careers that the negotiations with the right, itself divided on the subject, will have been the toughest. It was finally the proposal of Alain Marleix, president of the LR group in the Assembly, which was retained during discussion with the possibility of retiring for anyone who started working four or five quarters before the age of 21, as soon as she has reached 43 years of contribution. This should cost an additional 400 million euros for the reform.
An “insincere” budget balance?
In CMP, the left-wing parliamentarians, who widely shared the debates on social networks, however accused the figures put forward of “insincerity”. They stress in particular that the costs induced by the reform on all of the social accounts did not appear in the debates.
A study carried out before the reform by the social ministries on behalf of the Pensions Orientation Council nevertheless estimated that raising the legal age from 62 to 64 could cost one billion euros in additional sick leave and 800 million in disability allowances or RSA. To which would be added 1.3 billion additional unemployment contributions.
Figures that the government has not included, considering its accompanying measures sufficient to avoid these social transfers. It relies in particular on the senior index or reinforced medical monitoring. Nevertheless, these last two provisions could turn out to be unconstitutional, because they do not come under the very strict conditions of a bill for the amending financing of Social Security which imposes to stick to purely budgetary elements. This could also be the case of the “senior CDI” of the Senate. Suffice to say that, with its vote scheduled for Thursday morning in the Senate, then the afternoon in the Assembly, and the specter of a forced passage by 49.3, the obstacle course of the reform is not over.
The level of confidence of the French in political figures decreased in one year, whatever the function. So :
♦ 57 % of French people trust their mayor, i.e. 8% less in one year.
♦ 42 % to their departmental advisers (– 9%)
♦ 41 % to their regional advisers (– 10%)
♦ 36 % to their MP (– 9%)
♦ 30 % to their MEPs (– 6%)
♦ 29 % to the current President of the Republic (– 9%)
♦ 27 % to the current Prime Minister (– 9%)
Figures from the barometer of political confidence, annual survey carried out by the OpinionWay institute for the Political Research Center of Sciences Po (Cevipof), made public on Wednesday March 15.
The survey was carried out from January 27 to February 9, 2023, with a sample of 3,072 people, from a sample of 3,335 people representative of the French population aged 18 and over.
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