Pension reform: we will have to “work more to live better”


The explosive subject of the new school year. Eclipsed by two and a half years of pandemic, pension reform is again in the foreground in this month of September 2022… And for a long time. Then candidate for the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron did not hide his desire to reform once and for all the French pension system and there is therefore little chance that he will back down on the issue. Should we expect a strong transition? The Head of State has not yet decided, but the question is indeed on the table.

It should be settled this Monday, September 26 in the morning, since the Council of Ministers will work on three important texts: the finance bill, the Social Security budget and renewable energies. According to information from Le Parisien, “pension reform should not be included in the Social Security financing bill” presented to ministers today. Nevertheless, “all the options are on the table”, insists for its part the Élysée with the Ile-de-France daily.

Emmanuel Macron should consult in the coming days, receiving Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday, eminent members of the government, but also François Bayrou, ally of the presidency who has not yet hidden his dissatisfaction in recent days. Speaking in Guidel (Morbihan) for the parliamentary days, the mayor of Pau said, quoted by Le Parisien: “Take three or four months to reflect together, to put facts and options on the table, would be good not only for civil peace, but for reform itself”.

For his part, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe wants the decision to be taken “quickly”: “Let’s make sure that either we move quickly, or we move a little less quickly, but let’s say how we are going to do it”, he said. he claimed at the same rally this weekend.

So, what conduct will the government choose? On this subject, the Minister of Action and Public Accounts Gabriel Attal did not hide the game of the government: we will very soon have to work more. Here are the latest announcements.

Asked by Le Journal du Dimanche, Gabriel Attal made things clear: “Yes, we will reform pensions”. No hesitation therefore on this side, nor with regard to the procedure to follow: “The new rights, the improvement of our public services, this requires activity”, he adds to the weekly, before concluding that it will be necessary “to work more to live better”.

A little phrase that could set fire to the powder, because the French are mostly opposed to a decline in the starting age. According to a poll* “Opinion en direct” Elabe for BFMTV, only 21% of respondents agree to increase the retirement age. How then can such a decision be justified? With the Journal du Dimanche, Gabriel Attal recalls that “our scheme is in deficit” and that it will be necessary to finance certain other measures, such as the increase in the minimum pension to 1,100 euros. “However, we do not want to increase taxes, nor to explode the debt that future generations will have to pay sooner or later,” he concluded with the weekly. What sauce are you going to be eaten with? The Prime Minister answered the question this very morning.

*Sample of 1,002 people representative of residents of mainland France aged 18 and over. Survey carried out by Internet from September 20 to 21, 2022.

Reform yes, but how? According to Le Parisien, the government would have two options on the table. The first is “only financial” and would balance the accounts. The second is “more global” and could include “a worksite on arduousness”. A presentation in two stages could also be chosen, with a first part on the increase in the contribution period as well as the revaluation of minimum pensions. The second part, which would come later, would concern the starting age, which would then be extended.

Invited on BFMTV this Monday, September 26, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed that the reform was “priority” and made an appointment with the French in a few days: “With the President of the Republic, we will decide by weekend”. “We are looking for the best way to both implement this reform in the summer of 2023 and at the same time leave room for dialogue and consultation,” she added to the television channel. Regarding the use of 49.3, the Prime Minister said: “My method is the search for dialogue, compromise. At the same time, the French would not understand that we are blocked (…) is one of the tools available to the government if there is a deadlock situation”.

The reform is not even started that the government is already shaken. Questioned by Le Parisien, a minister explains: “Emmanuel Macron wants to go quickly, but he is shaken by the positions taken by Bayrou and some of his relatives. As for Elisabeth Borne, she does not want to bump head-on into the CFDT through a hasty reform”. According to another member of the government, we will have to balance between softness and firmness.