FRANCE – After 19 days of debate, the French general assembly has finally agreed to the pension reform proposals to be put forward to the senate next week.

Newspaper reports claim that over 8,600 amendments have been discussed since the debate opened on June 10. Of those, 453 amendments have been agreed by the ministers.

The key proposal passed in the first hearing is that of harmonising the contribution periods of public and private sector workers. Contribution periods for both parties are proposed as being 41 years, increasing to 42 years in 2020, in order to receive full entitlement to the state pension.

A second proposal agreed by the ministers was the introduction of new individual retirement savings plans (PEIR). Labour and social minister Francois Fillon said that for too long the government had turned its back on private pensions, and that the new PEIR were essential to offer extra retirement provision above the state system.

Given the public’s dissent over the new proposals, and continuing strikes, the general agreement of the French ministers regarding the pensions bill was somewhat surprising. The majority agreed, however, that the demographic shock threatening the country’s pension system required attention, and reforms to the pensions system.

The 453 agreed proposals and amendments will be put to the Senate on Monday for further debate. The final bill is hoped to be passed before September.