FRANCE - France's leading pension advisory body is expected to recommend increasing the country's pension contribution period in an effort to tackle its increasing pension deficit.

The Conseil d'orientation des retraites (COR) will shortly publish a paper, which according to French reports will suggest a staggered increase in the contribution period by three years, to 43.5 years, for those wishing to draw the maximum pension.

Following earlier reforms in 2003, the contribution period for those wishing to draw the highest pension is already set to increase to 41.5 from 40 years by 2020. The COR document, scheduled for release in a couple of weeks, is expected to say that if this trend continues beyond 2020, a contribution period of 43.5 years will be required by 2050.

The paper, while not binding, is expected to influence President Sarkozy's government as it prepares to announce pension reforms later this year. Last month, Sarkozy already stated that any increase would affect both the public and the private sector, as France attempts to prevent its deficit reaching €50bn by the end of the decade.

Other commentators, including Arnaud Chéron of the EDHEC Business School, have previously said that an increase in retirement age as well as a lengthening of the contribution period should be implemented as part of any reforms.

"From negotiations between Government and unions, we can expect a limited increase in the contribution periods of between one to three years," Chéron told in February, adding "It is obvious that the effective retirement age should increase in France." (See earlier IPE story: Experts disagree on steps needed on French retirement)