French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday said she was willing to moderate her plans to delay the minimum retirement age, which could fall below the 65 years of her initial plans.
Borne, who this afternoon begins a final round of two-day talks with unions and employers before presenting in detail his reform on the 10th, acknowledged in an interview with France Info radio that 65 years “is not a totem” and that “the discussions continue and will continue today.”
He added that, in addition to raising that minimum retirement age from the current 62 years, there are other parameters in which action can be taken to balance the financing of the pension system in the horizon of 2030.
In any case, he pointed out that the contribution period necessary to collect a full pension will not be increased, which under the previous pension reform will rise to 43 years, and that the retirement age to collect that full pension will not change when 43 years of contributions are not reached, 67 years old.
The prime minister ruled out an increase in contributions, both employers and those paid by workers, and said that is “a red line”. His argument is that not increasing labor costs is what allowed to create a million jobs during Macron’s first term (2017-2022) and continue in that same dynamic in the second.
“We don’t want to increase contributions, we don’t want to increase the cost of labor,” he stressed.
On the justification for the reform, Borne referred to the reports and projections of the Pension Guidance Board (COR, an independent public body), which are subject to divergent interpretations by his government and trade unions.
According to the prime minister, the figures of the COR “show that our pension system has a structural deficit and will continue to have it” and “we want to preserve the pay-as-you-go system” in which it is the contributors of each moment who pay the pensions of retirees.
He emphasized that the ratio between contributors and retirees is falling: it has gone from 2 contributors for each retiree in 2005 to 1.7 today and will decrease to 1.5 in the future. Therefore, he insisted that “if we do not want to leave a debt for future generations (…) You have to work longer.”
The pension reform that the government of President Emmanuel Macron will present on Tuesday of next week will be adopted in the Council of Ministers on January 23 so that it can begin its parliamentary process at the beginning of February, with the aim that the two chambers adopt it during the first quarter, according to the calendar of the prime minister.
The problem is that his Executive will need the support of other political groups, since Macron does not have a sufficient majority, and the opposition of the left and the extreme right of Marine Le Pen are frontally opposed. In principle, the only partners seem to be the conservatives of The Republicans.
But the greatest difficulties could be in the street, since all the unions without exception have demonstrated frontally against the delay of the retirement age and have promised mobilizations that will be announced in the coming days.