Regarding the pension reform in France, which has just been imposed by the government through article 49.3, Nicolas Schmit rejects the idea that this project would have been imposed by the European Union. "The Commission has never asked for a reform like the one that has been adopted," he said. "It calls on all countries, including France, for a pension system that is both financially sustainable and with adequate benefits. And in the context of public finances, this is a key element." He says theEU's recovery plan of more than €40 billion was not conditional on this reform.
The European Commissioner acknowledges that there is a demographic element: "the European population is ageing, there must be a balance between those who pay and those who are retired".
On the disparity of the retirement age in Europe, he maintains that "if the average in Europe is rather at 65 years, we must distinguish the legal retirement age from the effective retirement age". He pleads to take into account the arduousness and especially to manage the working conditions of seniors, "prepare them to evolve or train to change positions according to their age".
Nicolas Schmit believes that companies should not part with seniors, because there is a shortage of skilled workers. "We need to change the attitude of older workers," he said. The Commissioner also recommends negotiation and social dialogue, which "States should give priority to all industrial issues or the greening of our economies".
Finally, "the integration of Ukrainian workers is a relative success," he stresses. "The Temporary Protection Directive was the right choice. Even these workers are often paid below their qualifications. We are now working on the recognition of women's qualifications – since most of the refugees are women."
On the subject of unemployment, if it is necessary to train young people and integrate as many people as possible in the face of shortages in certain sectors in tension such as care or construction, "we must organize legal immigration based on skills. We must prepare these workers and help them integrate through housing, education, and that they accept the values of our societies."
In addition, to improve the conditions of workers on platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo, the European Commission is preparing a directive to prevent abuse and reclassify cases of disguised self-employed persons as employee contracts.
Finally, the European Commission has made a recommendation on minimum income. "It must allow a decent life," admits Nicolas Schmit. "But the Commission cannot set a minimum income for all Member States. We don't have that competence." It also invites States to work on the integration and inclusion in the labour market of each in order to regain their autonomy.
Show prepared by Isabelle Romero, Perrine Desplats and Sophie Samaille
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