PARIS - Reuters

France's parliament last week passed a law allowing firms to fix working hour accords with staff outside the legal 35 hour-week, effectively burying one of the flagship measures of the former Socialist government. Following are some of the main reforms of President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right government:
In July, parliament passed a law allowing firms to agree individual working hour accords with staff, although it kept 35 hours as the standard for a working week.
The measures followed earlier moves to cut income tax and social charges on overtime work and allow workers to "sell" time off granted for working beyond weekly work limits, measures that significantly undermined the 35 hour-week.
Measures introduced include waiving tax on overtime work, tax breaks on mortgage interest payments, the virtual abolition of inheritance tax, a ceiling on personal tax liabilities to 50 percent of income and more tax credits for research.
This month, parliament passed a law aimed at helping small business and at easing restrictions on retailers by measures such as letting supermarkets negotiate directly with suppliers.
The government wants to ease pressure on the strained pensions system by making people pay retirement contributions for 41 years before stopping work rather than 40 at present.
Sarkozy wants to cut costs in public administration to help rein in France's persistently high budget deficit, by measures that include not replacing one-in-two retiring civil servants. The military will be cut by 54,000 to 225,000 by reducing support personnel and increasing the focus on fighting forces.