PARIS (Reuters) - France's Socialist government must prove that a reform of its indebted pension system will not add to high labour costs and hurt competitiveness, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn told Le Figaro daily.
Rehn said the reform, which is to be presented to cabinet on September 18, was desirable, but expressed doubts about the government's pledge to offset new pension charges for companies at a later date.
President Francois Hollande has moved carefully with a reform that slightly raises pension contributions for both workers and companies, while lengthening working lives to 43 years from 41.5 currently, starting in 2020.
The European Commission, which has granted France two more years to cut its deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product, had suggested taking a bolder approach.
"This a reform 'a la francaise', it goes in the right direction," Rehn told Le Figaro in an interview to be published on Tuesday. "But we're still waiting to hear how its negative impact on labour costs is going to be compensated so as to avoid hurting competitiveness."
Labour unions have called for protests and work stoppages across France on Tuesday that may cause transport disruptions, but appear unlikely to draw a mass following.
Rehn said he reminded French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici of his duty to improve his country's competitiveness at a summit of the G20 industrialised nations in St. Petersburg.
"I reminded him how big the competitiveness problems of French companies was," he said.
(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Ron Askew)