Emmanuel Macron: Free Trader or Protectionist?

The French president hasn’t turned out to be the libertarian some of his admirers were hoping for.

French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16
French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16 (La Moncloa)

Is Emmanuel Macron a free trader? Or a traditional French protectionist?

Probably somewhere in between: more liberal than his recent predecessors, but not the libertarian some of his admirers were hoping for.

Nicholas Vinocur lists the complaints against Macron, as well as the arguments in his favor, at Politico.

Protectionist

  • Macron nationalized STX shipyards in eastern France to block an Italian takeover.
  • He has embraced geographic indicators for dairy products, hurting Belgian exporters, and supports banning herbicide glyphosate before its EU authorization lapses in five years’ time.
  • He has convinced other EU countries to shorten the duration of posted-workers contracts and harmonize social fees.
  • He calls for the taxation of web-based companies, something the industry says would put Europe at a disadvantage.

Or not

  • As economy minister, Macron broke with policy by allowing foreign takeovers of French companies.
  • Agriculture is considered separate from (the rest of) the single market in Europe.
  • Macron aims to harmonize social and living standards across the EU in order to promote labor mobility.
  • By making Europe work for the little guy, he is trying to take the wind out of the sails of anti-globalist parties, like the National Front.