FRANCE – The retirement system is at the top of the French government’s priorities for reforms to the social system in 2003 and discussions with the social partners will commence in February, according to French daily La Tribune.

As with many other developed countries, an ageing population has taken its toll on the French retirement system, and urgent reforms have been called for by the social partners. Three measures are currently being considered: length of contributions; size of pension; and level of contributions - with the French government’s clear preference being for an increase in the length of contributions.

Discussions will commence in February between the government and the social partners, opened by Francois Fillon, minister of social affairs, and public sector minister Jean-Paul Delevoye. Prior to the negotiations the trade union CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail) is calling for a national demonstration, probably at the end of January.

Prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has fixed a date at the end of June whereby he hopes to have decided upon a plan of reform with the social partners.