A Reuters news report said Sarkozy made the statement during a meeting earlier this week with union and employer group representatives called to set a schedule for negotiations on the measure. “If we want to save our pension system, we can no longer put off the decisions,” Sarkozy told reporters after the meeting, adding that negotiations would begin in April, Reuters said.
According to the news report, France spends 12.4% of gross domestic product on its pensions, against a euro zone average of 11.1%. An aging population coupled with crisis-related state spending have increased the need for change.
The president ruled out a cut in pension payouts, which was one of the options to reduce costs. Others include raising the retirement age from the current 60 years or hiking the number of years people have to work before getting a full pension, Reuters reported.
Sarkozy tried to take a conciliatory approach. “We are going to take the time that’s needed to engage in a dialogue, to make sure everyone’s positions are understood and the French will be clearly informed of the stakes and solutions,” he said.
In other global pension news, Greece’s government has unveiled a change in the average retirement age to help pull the country out of its financial crisis (see Greece Changes Retirement Age to Cut Pension Costs).