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Europe

French government opts to push retirement age to 62

The French government has adopted a controversial pension reform plan that would push the retirement age to 62. Heading the overhaul is Labor Minister Eric Woerth, currently at the center of a party funding scandal.

Two older men

Sarkozy wants the French to work longer

The French cabinet has approved the text of an unpopular draft law that would overhaul the French pension system and raise the retirement age to 62 from 60. On Tuesday, Labor Minister Eric Woerth presented the bill to the cabinet and then delivered it to the National Assembly.

The lower house of parliament is set to vote on the reforms in September, followed by the Senate. President Nicolas Sarkozy is hoping it will be passed by the end of October.

Unions have vowed to fight the change. "The risk of social unrest after the summer holidays has not been dissipated," Dominique Barbet, a BNP Paribas analyst, said in a statement.

Reforms overshadowed by scandal

French Labor Minister Eric Woerth

Woerth has taken Sarkozy's advice and stepped down as party treasurer

Woerth stepped down from his secondary position as treasurer of the ruling UMP party on Tuesday, amid repeated allegations that he was involved in a party funding scandal. France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has been accused by her former accountant of making illegal donations to Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign through Woerth.

Sarkozy defended his labor minister in a television interview on Monday night.

"Eric Woerth is an honest man, a competent man," he said. "He enjoys my full confidence." Sarkozy said, however, that he had advised Woerth to step down from his treasurer position to focus on the pension reform bill.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP/AP/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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