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BEERG Newsletter - France: Assembly election results sow political confusion

Future government policy in France was thrown into a state of confusions by the failure of parties supporting President Macron to win an overall majority in the second round of last Sunday’s legislative elections. 

While a Macron-supporting coalition won the most seats, it fell short of an outright majority by around 40. Macron and his prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, will now have to negotiate with other parties to see if a majority to support the government’s agenda can be cobbled together.

Most at risk is Macron’s plan to push the retirement age from 62 to 65. Last week, the reformist union federation, CFDT, decided to oppose the move. In the past, the CFDT could generally be relied upon to negotiate on proposed labour law reforms. Now whatever government emerges is likely to face solid union opposition to pension reform. 

The unions may also push for legislative changes to the so-called “Macron Grid”, the matrix which determines how much compensation dismissed workers can claim. The Grid was recently endorsed by the Cour de Cassation, France’s top social court, which seemed to put an end to the matter.

But last week, the European Committee of Social Rights, part of the Council of Europe, not to be confused with the European Union, said that the Grid runs counter to France’s international commitments and contravene the principle of ‘the right to adequate compensation or other relief in cases of unfair dismissal.’ The opinion will embolden unions to push the incoming Assembly to look afresh at the Grid.

However, as Joël Grangé of Flichy Grangé told us:

the decision from the European Committee of Social Rights has no direct nor, most probably, indirect effect in French law, since the French Supreme Court Social Chamber (Chambre sociale de la Cour de cassation) judged on May 11 that the European Charter of Social Rights has no direct effect in disputes between individuals.

As a result of this decision, the Charter cannot be invoked in French private law disputes, but it also reduces the authority of the decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights, which were already not binding and whose interpretation of the Charter should count/weigh even less in the future.

Therefore, the scope of the decision concerns only the State invited to take it into consideration, which is, in addition, not obliged to do so.

 

Published on: June 22, 2022

Authors: Tom Hayes

Topics: The UK and European Union

Tom Hayes

Director of European Union and Global Labor Affairs, HR Policy Association

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