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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Réforme des retraites en vue

by Alexandra Chaignon

Retirement “Reform” In Sight

Translated Monday 11 March 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

The French government set up its commission on the future of retirement on Feb. 27.

“Identifying the different courses of action for a reform that makes it possible to ensure the financial balance of the retirement schemes in the short, medium and long term, and to reinforce justice, fairness and understandability for those benefitting from retirement insurance.”

Such is the objective of the commission “for the future of retirement,” set up on Deb. 27 by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The commission is charged with proposing “scenarios” for reform by June, in preparation for the labor-management talks that will follow. “Different scenarios for rebalancing (the retirement schemes) have to be proposed, and changes if they are desirable” rather than “a grand reform,” pointed out the state councilor Yannick Moreau, who will preside over the commission.

Whereas up to now Jean-Marc Ayrault kept up a fog as to the calendar for the up-coming reform, he now seems to want to accelerate the process, pointing to pressure from the financial markets.

Be that as it may, labor-management negotiations already promise to be complicated as their points of view are so divergent. Some trade union confederations, such as FO, have not given up on a return to retirement at age 60, whereas the main bosses association, the MEDEF, is arguing for pushing the legal retirement age up to 63 or even 64. The CFDT trade union confederation, for its part, still defends the idea of beginning from scratch. The CGT trade union confederation favors a reform of the financing of retirement pensions, notably by drawing on finance income.

Questioned on the hypothesis of pushing up the retirement age or lengthening the dues-paying period, Minister Marisol Touraine refused to answer. The government, however, has hinted that it might draw inspiration from the on-going talks on the complementary retirement benefit schemes (AGIRC and ARRCO), which are co-managed by labor and management. To refill the chests of these schemes, which are in the red, the MEDEF is demanding a partial freeze on retirement pensions, which would then fail to keep pace with inflation.

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