Brussels, 13 July 2009
The European Commission has given the green light to French State aid for reform of the financing method for the special pension scheme for RATP staff. The Commission considers this reform necessary to put the Ile-de-France transport company on an equal footing with its competitors.
The RATP [ Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens] (Paris public transport company) staff retirement scheme is a special scheme. Until 1 January 2006, this scheme was run by the company itself, which was responsible for ensuring its financial equilibrium.
The reform of the method of financing this scheme, launched on 1 January 2006, involved the establishment of an RATP staff pension fund (the CRP-RATP). This fund became the sole legal debtor for the retirement pensions of the regular staff. As such, since 1 January 2006 the RATP has, in full discharge of its liabilities, made contributions to the CRP-RATP which correspond to the common law contributions of the active members of this special scheme and the contributions for which it is responsible itself as an employer. The CRP-RATP also receives State aid to balance its accounts.
The reform further provides the CRP-RATP with a possibility to financially back a part of the pension rights of the special scheme with schemes under common law. Moreover, to ensure the financial neutrality of this backing, provision is made for the French Government to assume responsibility for making balancing cash payments to the common law systems.
Following an in-depth examination, the Commission has concluded that the reform notified by the French authorities constituted State aid benefiting the RATP.
However, the Commission considers that this State aid is compatible with the common market subject to the reform of the RATP special retirement scheme being implemented in full. This reform is designed to bring the special scheme into line with the basic schemes for private sector employees and civil servants, following the rules of common law.
The Commission considers that in fact the notified reform is limited to that which is strictly necessary to create equal conditions with regard to contributions for compulsory old-age pension insurance. Furthermore, it puts an end to a distortion of competition that would have handicapped the RATP.
The State's payment of balancing aid to the CRP-RATP and the State's financing of the balancing cash adjustments paid to common-law schemes does not constitute State aid to the CRP-RATP within the meaning of Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty, because the CRP-RATP is not a company within the meaning of Community competition law.