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Is there a need for pension reform?

By omitting, in his speech Wednesday evening June 22, to mention pensions, Emmanuel Macron has further removed the prospect of a reform yet considered crucial there is little.

“A reform is essential to save our pension system”summarized the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire in April, when other representatives of the presidential majority insisted on the need to ” work more “and therefore to push back the legal retirement age, to maintain the balance of the pay-as-you-go system.

” There is no emergency “, repeats the general secretary of the CFDT Laurent Berger, in unison with the other unions. All rely on the 2021 report of the Pensions Orientation Council (COR) concluding that the share of pension expenditure in GDP” remained “on a trajectorymastered » thanks to previous reforms, a little below 14% of GDP.

“Pension money should not be used to finance anything else”

Despite the crisis, the COR even forecast a contained deficit close to 0.4 % of GDP in 2021 ». The 2022 report, which should confirm or invalidate this forecast, was expected on Wednesday June 22, but the government did not send the elements in time to make the calculation…

Still, for some economists, the weight of pensions in the French economy is too high. The European Commission is thus concerned about the imbalance of French public finances and calls for a standardization of schemes. Markets, too, may be reluctant to lend to France to make up for its deficit.

Because one of the objectives of the reform proposed by Emmanuel Macron was to free up budgetary leeway, up to 9 billion euros, to finance other policies, such as dependency. Unthinkable for the unions. “Pension money should not be used to finance anything else”warns Laurent Berger whose union proposes, to finance dependency, “the creation of a 1% levy from the first euro on all inheritances and donations”.

Reformist unions do not rule out reform

More broadly, the unions, which note that one in two new retirees no longer has a job when he actually retires, are questioning the effectiveness of raising the retirement age. A study by the social ministries thus estimates that a postponement of the retirement age would cost 4.9 billion euros more for unemployment, RSA or disability.

The reformist unions, CFDT in the lead, want a reform, but to compensate for the inequalities of the system: for women, whose average pension remains lower than that of men, or for those who have had difficult careers or started working early but must contribute until the legal age, therefore longer than the others. Emmanuel Macron had also made a gesture by announcing a 4% increase in pensions from August, and saying he was ready to discuss hardship and long careers.

Age, a red flag for the unions

For the unions, who recall that the Touraine reform increasing the contribution period to 43 years by 2035 has not yet produced all its effects and that life expectancy has not increased significantly since, any measure of age remains a red rag. During its recent congress in Lyon, the CFDT was also firmly opposed to any further extension.

To nevertheless pass its reform, the government could certainly ally with the Republicans, whose program provided for a postponement to 65 years of the minimum age of departure. But the unions have warned: they are ready in this case to take to the streets.

“Touching the age is useless”

Their analysis is also shared by economists who are nevertheless classified among the liberals. “Touching the age is useless, if not to put people in the street”judge Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, president of the Circle of economists.

With the Demographic Transitions, Economic Transitions Chair, he proposed at the beginning of June a rebalancing of pension schemes by facilitating the employment of seniors whose employment rate could increase by 10 points in ten years. A proposal welcomed Sunday, June 19 by Force Ouvrière which, during its congress, at the end of May in Rouen, approached the other reformist unions from which it had moved away in 2018.

CFDT, CFTC, FO together displaying a representativeness of nearly 60%, a pension reform would therefore be possible. Provided that Emmanuel Macron renounces any age measure.