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France’s Retirement Reform: Too Little, Too Late?

“The position of Air France-KLM is 50:50 at this stage,” the source said. “The business plan presented last week was not suitable, the conditions were not fulfilled, particularly in terms of debt restructuring.” However, the source added that Alitalia was “of strategic interest” to Air France-KLM, which owns 25 percent of the airline that has not made a profit for more than a decade. Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) approved the 300 million-euro ($408 million) share issue along with Alitalia’s other investors during a meeting that lasted until the early hours of Tuesday. But it is not obliged to participate in the cash call, and has always said it would attach strict conditions before giving any help. Analysts suggest Air France-KLM is dragging its feet in order to secure stricter restructuring concessions from the Italian government and other shareholders. The cash call, part of a wider bailout, is seen as only a stop-gap solution before talks on a possible tie-up between Alitalia and Air France-KLM. Massimo Sarmi, the head of Italy’s post office, which has agreed to commit 75 million euros to the capital increase, was flying to Paris to discuss matters with Air France, a second source told Reuters. An Air France-KLM spokesman declined to comment. Alitalia came close to being grounded last weekend after its major creditor Eni (ENI.MI) threatened to cut off fuel supplies. Rome has patched together an emergency 500 million-euro fund, persuading the state-owned post office to take part and banks Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) and Unicredit (CRDI.MI) to provide guarantees of up to 100 million euros. A broader consortium of banks would put up 200 million in existing and new loans. Intesa, which is also an Alitalia shareholder, said in a statement it would subscribe to its quota of the cash call, or 26 million euros, on top of the bank guarantee of up to 50 million euros.

Alitalia workers walk in front of the headquarter at Fiumicino international airport in Rome October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

In other European countries with unsustainable retirement systems, such as Spain and Italy, the financial crisis has threatened to bankrupt the government, pushing politicians to act. France has been spared such turmoil and lacked the same incentives. “There is only one party in France and that is the status quo party,” said Kirkegaard. So in another few years, France will likely apply another Band-Aid to its pensiosn system. And so it will go, Kirkegaard said, until the crisis in France gets deep enough that it is forced to make the kinds of changes Madrid and Rome have made. Earlier on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers break eggs in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) A view of broken eggs as French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) A French egg producer throws eggs in a mail box as he break eggs in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013.

France stresses dialogue as best way forward for Bahrain

It is necessary for Bahrainis to find a way to agree because there is no alternative to dialogue to reach an agreement on a formula that allows the coexistence and satisfaction of all parties, no matter how different their views are. Such a goal is achievable only through dialogue, the ambassador told Bahrain News Agency (BNA). The dialogue, launched on February 10, brought together representatives from a coalition of five opposition societies, a coalition of other political societies, the parliament and the government. The participants, eight from each of the non-official components and three from the government, have yet to agree on the agenda of the talks devoted to political issues. The opposition and the three other groups have often waded into disagreements, mainly over the representation at the table and the outcome of the dialogue. The opposition last month said that it was suspending its participation to ask for the release of Khalil Marzooq, an opposition figure who was arrested on charges of inciting and advocating terrorism, using his leadership position in a legally organised political society to incite crimes and being affiliated with a terrorist organisation. He will be put on trial on October 24. By virtue of the friendship between my country and the Kingdom of Bahrain, we sincerely urge all parties to find a way that satisfies of all parties, without frustrating any side, that makes it imperative for each party to make positive steps forward because they would be in the interest of the country, Ambassador Testot said. The ambassador said that relations between Bahrain and France were very good. We work every day to strengthen them to the highest levels. As you know, His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa paid a visit to France in July 2012 and had a very good meeting with President Hollande. The two heads of states decided on this occasion to deepen this relationship by establishing a high bilateral Franco-Bahraini committee whose text will be signed soon in Bahrain. This document covers all aspects of our relationships, be they political, economic, or in the field of education and higher education. Bahrain is a friendly country and France wishes to increase its presence in the Kingdom. Concerning foreign policy, I was able to witness that on several topics such as Mali, Syria, regional security and many other issues, our approaches are essentially the same, he said. Referring to the trade relations between Manama and Paris, Ambassador Testot said that France was among the top investors in Bahrain between 2000 and 2010 in the energy, infrastructure and banking sectors.