“We must save our pay-as-you-go system, and we must save it together,” said Jean-Pierre Raffarin in a rousing speech to the economic and social council in France last month.
In a dramatic opening to his address on plans for reform, the French prime minister declared: “The time for responsibility has come,” and asked the partners to put aside their selfishness in order to “save the PAYG system”.
His address followed the demonstrations when more than 300,000 protesters took to the streets of France to demonstrate against the French government’s pension reform proposals ahead of the council’s meeting. Raffarin is expected to increase the duration of contributions for public-sector workers to 40 years, but unions oppose any plans that make people work past the age of 60 before receiving a full pension. Raffarin said that he had listened to the demonstrators, and that he understood that the complexity of the subject was worrying. “If it wasn’t difficult, it would have been dealt with a long time ago,” he said.
He has suggested a more “liberal” retirement plan in line with that proposed by the UK government, whereby individuals could choose to work beyond the set retirement age if desired.
In line with the Swedish system, Raffarin proposed more rights to information about pensions which would allow citizens to choose the appropriate retirement saving scheme for them.
Plans for a conference on work and life to be held as IPE went to press were announced, and Raffarin stood by his promise that the reforms will be formalised before summer.