we explain to you the different options of the government to have its measures adopted

After being swept away by the Covid-19 pandemic, the thorny pension reform is once again on the government agenda. Emmanuel Macron declared it on Monday September 12: he wants to relaunch the measure, and quickly, confirming the objective of entry into force in the summer of 2023. The government will be the recipient “at the end of the week” of one “opinion of the pension monitoring committee, responsible for making proposals to guarantee the balance of the pension system”said Olivier Dussopt, the Minister of Labour, on France 3. “We have to work more. That means more people working.”

“The objective of full employment is also intended to generate revenue for the social system.”

Olivier Dussopt, Minister of Labor

on France 3

It remains to be seen how the government, which does not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly, intends to have this reform adopted. While the presidential party, freshly renamed Renaissance, is already divided on the issue and already has to deal with unions bristling with the project, several options are on the table. Explanations.

Include the reform in the PLFSS

One of the avenues mentioned by the government consisted in tabling an amendment in the social security finance bill (PLFSS), a bill voted annually which concerns the financial balance of social security, an important tool for implementation of a number of measures relating in particular to health or work. The use of this text as a possible Trojan horse to pass the pension reform would have the advantage of speed for the majority.

“By going through an amendment in the PLFSS, the government avoids a certain formalism to which it would be subject if it presented a bill, for example the need to submit the bill to the opinion of the Council of State “, explains Annabelle Pena, professor of constitutional law at the University of Toulon. A significant time dimension in the eyes of part of the presidential entourage. “We learned during the last five years that many events can come to hit the country: inflation, the international situation… When there is a window of opportunity, you have to seize it”, points out an influential member of the majority.

But this method also runs a risk: to steer the unions, at the dawn of an autumn which already promises to be socially tense against a backdrop of inflation and the energy crisis. “In the event of measures on pensions slipped into the PLFSS, there will be no joint work”has already warned Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT. “Serenity will not be in order if the fall is disrupted by a brutal measure”he warned. “If the question of age were to arrive in the PLFSS, it would block the consultations not only on pensions, but also on all the other five-year projects”for his part warned Cyril Chabanier, president of the CFTC, after a meeting on the subject with the Minister of Labor.

Present a separate bill

More classic, it is for the government the other track to move forward on this thorny issue. As in the first option, the precise content of a possible bill remains unclear to this day. Last week, Emmanuel Macron indicated that a gradual increase in the legal retirement age to 64 or 65 (compared to 62 today), a campaign promise, was still valid. An increase in the contribution period is also not ruled out.

Even with this less expeditious procedure, the risk of blocking the social partners is far from being ruled out. “The unions are against an age measure in the PLFSS, but they will not be more for a separate bill”, believes a member of the majority. The Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, was able to realize this on Monday September 19 when he received the social partners for a consultation meeting during which the CGT was threatened with “immediately cut off all discussion with the government” and of “enter into social confrontation”.

Whether or not to use article 49.3

Whatever path is chosen, the question of whether or not to use Article 49.3 of the Constitution will inevitably arise for the government, which does not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly. This tool can indeed allow the adoption of a text without a vote if a motion of censure is not voted within 24 hours following its engagement. For bills, this article can only be used once per session. “It is precisely a way of limiting the passages in force”, notes Annabelle Pena. However, for budgetary texts, including the PLFSS and its cousin the finance bill (PLF), this limitation is waived and the government can use 49.3 as many times as it wishes.

Introducing an amendment on the pension reform to the PLFSS could thus allow the majority to then reserve the possibility of another recourse to 49.3, later in the parliamentary session, for another text that it would not be able to pass . Otherwise, if a bill is tabled and adopted via article 49.3, the government would have “roasted its joker” and could no longer use this tool thereafter. “Are we going to sacrifice the only 49.3 of the session, at the risk of being blocked until the end of June?” asks a senator.

Saturday, September 17, François Bayrou, the president of the MoDem and pillar of the majority, meanwhile opposed “a forced passage” and adoption of the reform without consultation, which would “the opposite of the spirit of the CNR [Conseil national de la refondation] which he presides. The government will therefore have to quickly resolve these divisions within the majority if it wants to table an amendment to the PLFSS, since the text must be presented to the Council of Ministers on September 26, and debated in the National Assembly from October 20. .

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