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France | The pension reform project examined in the Assembly in a tense atmosphere



(Paris) On the eve of the mobilization in the street, the deputies flocked to the committee on Monday for the examination of the highly contested pension reform project, with opposition increasingly raised in the face of the unfailing firmness displayed by the government.

The sixty or so parliamentarians from the Social Affairs Committee are working, article by article, on the text which provides for a decline in the legal age from 62 to 64 and an acceleration of the extension of the contribution period, before the test. in the hemicycle from February 6 on the flagship reform of Macron’s second five-year term.

The elected representatives of the Nupes left alliance came in large numbers, so much so that some had to settle between LR and RN, for lack of places on the left.

Socialist Arthur Delaporte immediately asked for “additional days” of the exam, which ends Wednesday evening. Some 7,000 amendments were tabled, including 6,000 by the left.

The tight deadlines are imposed by the vector chosen by the executive, a draft amending budget of the Secu, which limits to fifty days in total the debates in Parliament.

“More negotiable”

The tone went up a notch after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne assured Sunday that the postponement of the legal age of departure to 64 was “no longer negotiable”.

On Monday, the leader of the LFI deputies Mathilde Panot replied to him by considering that “the withdrawal of the text is not negotiable”.

On France 2, it is the secretary general of the CFDT Laurent Berger, who warned Mme Borne, who “cannot remain deaf to this tremendous mobilization that has been created”.

For his part, the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin reiterated Monday from Marseille his accusations of the weekend aimed at the Nupes, suspected of “bordering” the debate to “systematically prevent the government from moving forward”: “the borderline , I think we have seen it since this morning in committee at the National Assembly, ”he said.

After that of January 19, which saw 1 to 2 million people demonstrate against the reform, the unions hope to do at least as well. A hope reinforced by polls attesting to a growing rejection in public opinion.

The strike promises to be very popular in transport and at school. Air France will cancel one in ten short and medium-haul flights, but long-haul routes will not be affected.

The Snuipp-FSU, the first primary school union, predicted that half of first-level teachers would be on strike.

A source in the intelligence services expects 1.2 million demonstrators at the national level “in the high range, including 100,000 in Paris, with 240 processions or rallies planned”.

Eleven thousand police and gendarmes will be mobilized everywhere in France on Tuesday, including 4,000 in Paris, to supervise the demonstrations, announced Gérald Darmanin, who expressed the wish that the protests take place “under the same conditions without serious incident” as the previous mobilization .

In committee at the Assembly, the exchanges could be particularly tense on Tuesday, for this day of national interprofessional mobilization.

In session on February 6

The left curries a text “solitary, unjust and unjustified” even “anti-women”. In response, LFI presented Monday afternoon its “counter-project” which provides in particular for a retirement at age 60 with 40 annuities, and a pension of at least 1600 euros for all full careers.

The elected representatives of the left oppose the 64-year-olds as a whole and refuse to obstruct, avoiding purely formal amendments. “We are going to adapt our tactics as we go along, we want article 7 to be discussed” on age, indicates the Insoumise Clémentine Autain.

RN deputies fight the postponement of the age, but reserve their forces for the hemicycle.

For its part, the right, whose votes are crucial for the text to be adopted, is raising the stakes. The LRs have requests for women with chopped careers, for those who started working at the age of 20, on family rights or even a postponement of the entry into force of the reform.

The presidential majority is not to be outdone, but has been asked to curb its ardor to maintain the financial balance of the reform. The idea of ​​stronger constraints around the employment of seniors in large companies is however gaining ground at Renaissance.

Whether or not it is adopted in committee, the draft will be presented in session on 6 February. The rule for budgetary texts requires that it is the initial version which is submitted, without the amendments adopted in committee.

Two weeks of discussions are scheduled in the hemicycle.

IMF supports reform

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed pension reform on Monday on the eve of a one-day strike, saying it would help France save money while strengthening the labor market.

“Sustained spending-driven fiscal consolidation will be key to rebuilding financial buffers and returning debt to a firmly downward path,” the Washington institution wrote in a document released Monday assessing French economic policy.

According to the international organization, “the implementation of unemployment insurance reform and pension reform can provide part of this necessary adjustment”.

Spending cuts and other reforms should also make this possible, the IMF judges in this document entitled Article IV.

The members of the Monetary Fund “welcome the recent adoption of the unemployment insurance reform and the upcoming pension reform, which will help to increase the labor supply”, specifies the institution.

Already in November, the international economic institution had mentioned a reform of pensions as a way of reducing public spending, in the same way as the reduction of tax loopholes or better targeting of aid granted to households and businesses to cope with the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

On the aid provided in response to repeated crises, the IMF thinks that French support has “made it possible to cushion the impact, but has been costly, poorly targeted, and a source of distortions” and still calls for more targeted measures towards the most vulnerable.

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