Unemployment insurance was established by Charles de Gaulle on 31 December 1958 and initially applied only to employees of the commerce sector. From the start the employers organization CNPF and the trade unions FO, CFTC and CGC signed up to the new system. The system was not initially part of the French Social Security system and caused one main union the CGT to not sign the accord. The system did not include any structure to help those unemployed to find work. Thus in 1967 the ANPE was created.
In the 1980s the rapid rise of unemployment brought the Unedic to the brink of collapse as the employer organisations refused to endorse an increase in contributions in order to balance the accounts of Unedic. Finally employer organisations and the unions agreed to reduce benefits and make them dependent on the length of contributions.
Since 1984 the state takes over from Unedic once a worker has used up his/her benefits. Beneficiaries receive the RMI (Minimum subsistence revenue).
In 1992 the system again fell into deficit and the partners decided to increase the required contribution period together with reductions for the long term unemployed. In 2001 the reductions were abandoned in favour of incentives to employ the long term unemployed (PARE) but the reduced contributions and rising unemployment bring the system into deficit again and the partners were again forced to revise the system reducing the length of benefits from 30 months to 23. The reduction leaves only half of the unemployed getting benefits from Unedic.
In 2005 Employment and Cohesion minister Jean-Louis Borloo introduced the social cohesion law which formally abolished the Agence nationale pour l'emploi (National employment agency) monopoly on employment placement. The act created 300 Maison de l´emploi (employment houses) housing all agencies responsible for helping the unemployed. In 2006 an accord again tightened requirements for claimants at the same time as introducing the single office principle and the monthly counselling of claimants. As of December 2008 the ANPE and Assedic were merging into the newly created Pôle emploi.