Thomas' call to arms
Jean-Pierre Thomas, former member of the French parliament and sponsor of the controversial 'Loi Thomas' pension funding decree, has called on all of France's political parties and social partners to abandon tribalism and tackle the fundamental issue of future retirement provision in France.
Thomas who is with Lazard Fréres in Paris, declared: There is an unspoken consensus on all sides in France that the issue of capitalistion funds as a top-up to the existing regime must be broached properly to guarantee a decent future retirement income for today's youth and allow France greater access to the global wealth pot.
"This is no time for political rhetoric, let us put our collective shoulder to the wheel and really push forward the political debate on pension funding. If not, we will miss a historic crossroads, for which future generations will look back and castigate us forever."
Thomas added that the French people no longer tolerated paying more to receive less in pension rights upon retirement.
And citing the "indefatigable" factors of early retirement trends against increased longevity of life, alongside Europe's residual unemployment levels "which are not going away," he said: "There is no question of attacking the French flagstone of répartition, but we need drastic development and consolidation of a transparent, prudent capitalisation scheme, as near as possible to the US 401k model.
"We must guillotine the false notion that retirement provision should remain static, because it simply must be reformed if we are to bridge the public debt chasm and ensure there is no brain drain from France because pension provision is too costly and unattractive."
Thomas also stressed that increasing convergence in Europe of taxation and cross-border social rights demanded France embrace a system "that every other European country is taking on board".
"Without free circulation of capital, services and social rights, the pillars of the EU, the whole thing is just a sham - so we must move in line with the rest of Europe, whilst promoting our social solidarity and répartition system in return.
"And we must support Mario Monti in his quest to develop a harmonious and attractive tax system to support such initiatives.
"Personally I am confident that the government will not shirk this responsibility, and we will see a 'Loi Thomas' Mark 2 on France's political agenda very soon.""