France’s Chief Pension Reform Official Resigns Amid Protests

High Commissioner for Pensions Jean-Paul Delevoye resigns after failing to publicly disclose other positions he held, which potentially lead to conflicts of interest.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform troubles continue to exacerbate, as his chief pension reform official, Jean-Paul Delevoye, announced his resignation from Macron’s team after failing to publicly declare upwards of a dozen additional positions he held.

Delevoye admitted to French media outlet Le Monde he had failed to disclose the positions that were “otherwise incompatible with his ministerial function,” leading to a potential conflict of interest.

Delevoye stated it was a mistake not to disclose the posts, but repeated leaks in French media grew public concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest with his position spearheading the pension reform.

The 72-year-old architect of Macron’s proposal admitted he had 13 paid and unpaid jobs and board seats in conjunction with his position to bolster public policy, which is forbidden under the country’s law.

Among these positions were administrative roles for the Parallaxe think tank, the French Federation of Insurers, and the charitable arm of railway operator SNCF.

According to the AFP news agency, the activities paid him at least €123,000 since he was employed by Macron as High Commissioner for Pensions.

The news comes as French citizens mobilized a nationwide strike recently in response to Macron’s proposal to unify the country’s 42 distinct pension schemes into a universal points-based system. Under the plan, employees would earn “points” tradeable for pension benefits that are earned with each day worked. The proposal also includes provisions intended to incentivize citizens to work beyond the retirement age of 62.

Unions worry that they would lose their say on pension schematics under a unified system. About seven out of 10 French citizens said they are backing the strike.

“This reform is not going away with Jean-Paul Delevoye, it will always be defended by the government,” said French government spokeswoman Sibeth Nidiaye.

Macron’s office issued a statement on Delevoye’s resignation, saying “the president hails his personal commitment and his work on the pension reform. His withdrawal allows for a clarification of the situation.” His office added that it accepted his resignation “with regret,” and will replace him.

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe recently asserted the importance of Macron’s pension reform proposal during a speech at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Paris, noting that there are only 1.7 people working to support each retiree, compared with 4.5 when the system was created in 1945.

“We know our children won’t have the same linear careers we had and we need a pension system that allows that,” Philippe said, according to Reuters. “We need to have faith in a system that is not deemed to favor one person over another.”

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