France wants EU stability pact to cover pensions

FRANCE – French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has called for the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact to take into account long-term structural changes such as France’s attempt to make pension and health insurance sustainable.

The appeal came during a joint press conference with European Commission president Romano Prodi - where both also expressed concerns over the rise of the euro.

Raffarin’s comments followed a release from the government on Tuesday which denied press reports that there was a plan to raise social security taxation. It said the system would still uphold solidarity.

Pensioners and unemployed currently pay a Contribution Sociale Generalisee rate of 6.2%, while working citizens pay 7.5%.

The statement added that the GSG would be kept “at a normal rate” and for pensioners and the unemployed at a “reduced rate”.

“Following the article published in the press, the prime minister makes clear that, regarding the methods of financing the social security, the reform will maintain a system of solidarity and proportional to revenues.”

Meanwhile civil service minister Jean-Paul Delevoye has announced that a working group will be set up on January 20 to consider whether the “long career law” that allows employees who had started working in their teens to retire before their 60th year could be extended to civil servants.

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