The French government presented on February 27, 2023, the principles of its pension reform: one of the main ambitions is to raise the legal retirement age to 64, meaning 43 years of contribution will now be required to receive a full pension. It will also consider long careers and the drudgery of work.
The Government has chosen a particular way to present the text, by Article 47 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which allows the government to limit debates to 20 days in the Assemblée Nationale in first reading.
The discussion of the text by the National Assembly began on 27 January. The choice of this method will require the senators to examine this bill in 15 days, starting again on February 28. The text will arrive in the Senate on March 2. A joint committee will then be formed in mid-March to find an agreement between the two chambers. The deadline for Parliament discussions is March 26.
During the first reading in the National Assembly, members of Parliament did not manage to examine all the amendments. Not all the articles have been discussed, and therefore, the first change voted by the Assembly was not implemented in the text before its arrival in the Senate.
End of discount age and progressive retirement: what does the reform involve?
1/The extension of the legal retirement age automatically sets back the discount mechanisms by two years. The discount system allows a worker to leave his job without having collected all the quarters he was supposed to contribute in exchange for a reduction in his pension. Therefore, the discount cancellation enables people to retire at the full rate at the age of 67, even if they do not have all the necessary quarters of service.
2/The government also wants to simplify combining work and retirement, which makes it possible to resume work – usually part-time – after retirement while continuing to receive a pension. This allows additional quarters of contribution to be accumulated, thus creating new rights.
3/Progressive retirement is another option. It allows people to reduce their working hours towards the end of their careers and compensate for the loss of income by receiving a portion of their pension.
The government also wants to create an obligation to publish data on the employment of older employees in companies. This aims to expose bad practices. It should be noted that all the measures in the bill fall within the competence of France and are neither imposed by the EU nor derived from EU law. The pension reform was indeed included in the Commission’s recommendations, as it was a wish of the French government since 2019, but these recommendations are not binding.
The reform is heavily criticized in France, on two considerations:
- Firstly, there is an inadequacy of the reform, given the low employment rate of 60–64-year-olds and the lack of measures to facilitate training and professional reorientation of older workers.
- Secondly, there is an inability to ensure the financial stability of the private sector pension system after 2030. One of the key problems of the French labour market is the low employment rate – the proportion of people aged 15-64 who are employed.
The French government has justified this reform by the need to ensure the financial viability of the French pension system in the context of an aging population. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fund current pension schemes. Although the reform has been controversial, it is supported by the French government as being necessary to ensure the financial viability of the pension system. The bill on retirement at 64 will be examined on 28 February in the Senate. The right-wing senators who hold the majority want to make their mark, while the left-wing senators intend to prevent the vote on the reform.