France to raise retirement age in effort to cut deficit

France to raise retirement age in effort to cut deficit

The French government has drawn up a pension reform plan that will raise the age of retirement from 60 to 62 by the year 2018, DPA reported.

In the plan made public Wednesday by Budget Minister Eric Woerth, the retirement age will rise by four months every year beginning on July 1, 2011. At the same time, workers will have to retire at age 67 to benefit from full pension payments, instead of the current 65.

The proposal also extends the contribution periods to workers' pension funds and increases by 1 per cent the tax on the incomes of France's highest earners.

If passed by parliament, the plan will save the government more than 19 billion euros (23.4 billion dollars) in 2018, Woerth said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that the overhaul of France's pension system is the most important reform of his remaining term in office.

But it is expected to face stiff opposition from left-wing politicians and trade unions, who have said they will not accept a rise in the retirement age.

Unions have already scheduled nationwide strikes and demonstrations for later this month to protest a change in the retirement age.

Like most other European countries struggling to emerge from the economic crisis, France is looking to reduce government expenditures to lower its budget deficit, which is forecast to reach 8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year.

On Tuesday, the European Commission asked French authorities to provide details about how it intends to bring down its deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by the year 2013, as Paris has promised to do.

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