CONTEXT AND GOALS
The citizens’ consultation on pension reform was launched on October 3 by the French President as part of the preparations for the draft law. It should give everyone a chance to stay informed and to put forward their questions, hopes and concerns about the future universal pension system.
“A social project of this scope affects the future of our children and grandchildren and can only be built collectively. Thank you all for your analytical thinking, your critical sense, your stories and your contributions.
former High Commissioner for Pensions
Missions Publiques was called on to provide strategic support for the High Commissioner for Pension Reform, Jean-Paul Delevoye, with the design of the citizen workshops: we helped mobilize citizens, define the workshop objectives and facilitation protocol, and worked to make sure the information provided was accessible.
The workshops led by Missions Publiques brought together between 55 and 93 citizens for one day. The workshops comprised informative and discussion sessions on the pension reform project, alternating with sessions where the group expressed their joint proposals and signaled the watch-points.
The citizens’ workshop brought together a panel of 15 citizens over two weekends in Paris. They interviewed experts and social partners before drafting an informed joint opinion at the end of the citizens’ consultation process.
OUR ADDED VALUE
The discussions between members of the High Commissioner’s team and participants in the regional workshops helped improve the presentation of the draft reform (initial observations and intentions clarified, accuracy and accessibility of the subject matter, the hypotheses put forward for debate and invariants) and the participants were able to make practical, collective and well-argued proposals on the debate themes (considering new forms of work, solidarity between working people, marital and family rights, the transition from work to retirement, inclusion of disability and family carers, age and conditions of retirement, etc.). The citizens’ workshop drafted an opinion in response to the question: “What conditions are required to renew everyone’s trust in the pension system?”, insisting on the principles of universality, solidarity, transparency, and governance of the future system.
The reform and the institutional consultation were enhanced with input from the future beneficiaries of the planned pension scheme. The outcomes of the face-to-face and online consultations have been published on the consultation platform.
In his recommendations published in July 2019, the High Commissioner illustrated his proposals with highlights from the consultation.
In addition, more than 90 facilitators (most notably pension scheme employees) were trained during this process to provide support at the in-person discussions. These facilitators have therefore helped spread good citizen participation practices.
This initiative enabled participants to identify the strengths of the universal pension system project, as well as any points requiring clarification, areas of concern and the red lines. The divisive issues were explored together, thanks to carefully pinpointing of the issues raised during the workshops.
Multimodal information materials were designed to enable greater understanding of the subject and its issues.
Greater publicizing of these results and more thorough use during the institutional consultation and, more generally, in the public debate could perhaps have helped to ease some of the tension surrounding the draft reform.