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New Ways to Extend Unemployment Benefits by New French PM

France’s new Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, advocates for reforming support for unemployed individuals to alleviate the government deficit. The French government aims to bolster workforce participation by revising its financial assistance for the unemployed, spurred by a recent gloomy economic report.

In 2023, France’s budget deficit surged to 5.5%, surpassing the targeted 4.9%. In response, the government pledges to refrain from tax hikes and seeks alternative methods to bridge the spending-income gap. President Emmanuel Macron’s tenure has prioritized enhancing France’s labor force, evidenced by significant reductions in unemployment rates since 2017.

Facing the new fiscal challenge, Prime Minister Attal proposes potentially reducing benefit payments’ duration to a minimum of 12 months. Presently, individuals aged 53 or under can receive up to 18 months of support, with a six-month extension during job scarcity. Those above this age threshold receive more extensive benefits, though potential adjustments to age criteria remain uncertain.

Attal suggests modifying eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits, considering extending the required work period or shortening the qualification timeframe. Additionally, the government contemplates reducing benefit amounts, although Attal expresses reservations about this approach, preferring other options.

The Prime Minister delegates detailed proposals to employers’ federations and unions, expecting their input in the forthcoming months. Concrete reform plans are anticipated to be implemented in autumn following collaborative discussions.

The French government claims that compared to other European countries, its present unemployment benefit program is more generous.

The unemployment benefit in France pays 57% of prior earnings, with a monthly cap of €8,359 for those who qualify.

In Italy, the maximum monthly allowance is approximately €1,550, and in Germany, this ceiling might reach up to €7,550 in specific places.

The length of payouts in France is thus comparatively comparable to other European countries including Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, according to the unemployment insurance fund UNEDIC.

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