Created in 2000, the Pensions advisory council (Conseil d'orientation des retraites, COR) is an institution in charge of monitoring the middle and long term prospects of the pension system. It is an interesting institution, because it is both an institution of expertise and an institution of dialogue ("concertation").
Its expertise is embodied by the general secretariat (less than ten persons), composed of economists, statisticians, actuaries, who works in close cooperation with the public administration and the pension schemes. The COR's reports are viewed as fully consistent with the international standards in that field.
The concertation aspect is reflected in the composition of the Council (a little more than 30 members) : members of both houses of Parliament, representatives of employers, of the main unions, of the retirees and families, independent experts and main directors of the administration.
The laws assigns to the COR three main missions :
to describe the middle and long term prospects of the pension system with regard to demographic, economic and social background. In that respect, the COR issues, every five years, a set of projections on the financial situation of the pension system. The last projections, for years 2020, 2040 and 2060, have been published in December 2012.
to delineate the required conditions to ensure the financial sustainability of the pension schemes. The COR works out the elements of a "diagnostic partagé" (shared assessment), and, if possible, tries to formulate a set of choices in terms of pension policies.
as a result of the recent legislation (January 20, 2014), the COR has to publish, every year before June 15, a "public document" on the pension system, based on a set of indicators and assessing their consistency with the pension system's objectives. Leaning on that report, a new pension follow-up committee (comité de suivi des retraites) will make recommendations about possible pensions' parameters adjustments. Thus, the COR will play a central and regular role in the new monitoring process of the pension system.
During the last decade, the COR has provided its positive contribution to the system. It brings about continuity in the public debate on the pension system. Its pluralist composition allows for an open debate leading to a minimum of shared analysis, which is valuable in a country in which political and social consensus is difficult to reach. The COR reports have allowed for a better understanding of the different issues involved in the pension system, not only among experts but, more widely, in the overall political and social debate.