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French cabinet names high commissioner for pension reform

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The French government has got the ball rolling on its pledge to reform the country’s pension system with the appointment of Jean-Paul Delevoye, a former minister, to the newly created post of high commissioner for pension reform.

The high commissioner position is attached to the solidarity and health ministry, which is led by Agnès Buzyn. It was legally created via a decree published earlier this week, with the cabinet approving Delevoye’s appointment yesterday.

He will be responsible for organising consultations with the main pension stakeholders, co-ordinating preparations for reform with ministers, drafting legislative and regulatory texts, and monitoring their implementation.

Delevoye is a former French senator, and served as civil service minister under the Chirac presidency from 2002-04. He was formerly a politician for the centre-right UMP party – since renamed as the Republican party. He backed Emmanuel Macron in this year’s presidential elections, and was chosen to chair the nomination commission for the ensuing legislative elections.

Macron’s government has planned to move to a universal pension system by aligning the current multiple schemes that form a complex, fragmented system.

In a report on its latest economic survey of France, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Macron’s plans should contribute to reducing public spending, and would strengthen labour mobility and reduce management costs.

“The improved transparency would help address public concerns regarding inequities,” it said.

The next step would be to gradually raise the minimum retirement age, it added.

Pension spending in France amounts to 14.3% of GDP, one of the highest rates among OECD countries, according to the inter-governmental organisation. It raised its outlook for economic growth in 2017 for France from 1.3% to 1.7%, the highest rate for six years.

Discussions about the pension reform are scheduled to start next year. Buzyn has previously spoken of implementing the reform in the next legislative period, starting in 2022.

Read more about pensions in France in IPE’s 2017 edition of the Top 1000 European Pension Funds

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