Jean-Paul Delevoye, the man brought in by French president Emmanuel Macron to spearhead a major reform of the French pension system, resigned yesterday amid scrutiny of his failure to disclose a number of paid and unpaid roles.
His resignation came after almost two weeks of public transport strikes in protest over the pension reform, and on the eve of a planned day of mass protests called for by trade unions.
Delevoye first came under pressure last week in relation to an unpaid role at an institute for training insurance professionals that he had failed to declare. He stepped down from the role, over which he had been accused of a conflict of interest, but matters spiralled when Delevoye updated his declaration of interest over the weekend to reveal 10 previously undisclosed roles.
On Twitter, Delevoye said he would weaken the pension reform project by staying in his role. He also claimed “violent attacks and a hotpotch of lies” were weakening the trust that had characterised a two-year period of consultations about the reform.
Delevoye was appointed to the new role of high commissioner for pension reform in 2017 and was brought into the government in September.
Laurent Berger, leader of CFDT, France’s largest trade union, said he was “dumbfounded” by the revelations of Delevoye’s undeclared mandates, and that consultations with him had been “loyal”. The leader of hardline union CGT, Philippe Martinez, said Delevoye was no longer credible.
The more moderate CFDT has expressed support for the principle of transforming the French pension system into a universal system and had so far refrained from calling for strikes, but last week said the government had crossed “a red line” with its proposal that people work two years longer, until 64, to get a full pension.
It called on members to join the mass protests scheduled for today. Berger reportedly has said the union does not want transport strikes over the upcoming holiday period, but that it would continue to “mobilise” in January if changes had not been made to the reform plan.
Prime minister Edouard Philippe last week said a pensions reform bill would be presented to the cabinet on 22 January and discussed in parliament at the end of February.
French media reports have quoted government spokespeople as saying that the pension reform project would continue and that Delevoye would be replaced “as soon as possible”.