FRANCE – The French senate is broaching the final issue of the pensions reform bill today – the introduction of new individual retirement savings plans.

As part of its reform programme, the government plans to set up two products for retirement savings. One is an insurance product with tax advantages; the other is a PPSEVR, or plan parternarial d’epargne salariale volontaire pour la retraite. This is an employee savings plan for those workers and representatives of enterprises with more than 100 people.

The two new products should encourage retirement savings. Currently employees in France can save with their companies via an ‘epargne salariale’ plan (employee medium-term savings schemes). But, as these are only five-10 year investment funds, they are not viewed specifically as a source of retirement provision.

The new plans will provide opportunities for European asset managers as well as offering French citizens a new means of saving for retirement, but the proposal has its critics. Paul Loridant of the communist party said that the proposal “was not for future pensions, but instead was being introduced for banks and insurance companies.”

Labour minister, Francois Fillon, has defended the project saying it opens up saving opportunities to everyone – not just those in big companies.

The proposal is the last to be discussed by the Senate, which closes its debate on the pensions reform bill today. The final bill will be drafted next Thursday or Friday.