Momentum for Macron’s EU Reforms, But Obstacles Ahead

Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29
Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29 (La Moncloa)

France’s push for closer European integration is gaining momentum.

  • Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, has conditioned another grand coalition government with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats on support for Emmanuel Macron’s proposals.
  • Armin Laschet, the prime minister of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, and a prominent Christian Democrat has come out in support of the French agenda.
  • The European Commission has unveiled its own proposals for closer economic and fiscal integration that resemble Macron’s. Read more

Emmanuel Macron: Free Trader or Protectionist?

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. Read more

Posted-Workers Reform a Largely Symbolic Victory for Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and German chancellor Angela Merkel speak at a NATO summit in Brussels, May 25
French president Emmanuel Macron, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and German chancellor Angela Merkel speak at a NATO summit in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

French president Emmanuel Macron has convinced other EU countries to rein in employers’ ability to hire low-wage “posted” workers from Eastern Europe.

A majority of countries agreed this week to reform the Posted Workers Directive, which allows companies to temporarily “post” workers to another member state without abiding by its labor laws.

In future, such contracts will be limited to twelve months with an option to extend it for another six months at most. Read more

Evaluating Macron’s Proposals for EU Reform

French president Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference in Brussels, June 23
French president Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference in Brussels, June 23 (Facebook)

French president Emmanuel Macron made various proposals for European Union reform in a speech at the Sorbonne university in Paris today. They can be divided into three categories: difficult, doable and low-hanging fruit. Read more

Emmanuel Macron Suffered Two Setbacks This Weekend

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver a news conference in Berlin, May 15
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver a news conference in Berlin, May 15 (Bundesregierung)

French president Emmanuel Macron suffered two setbacks this weekend:

  1. His centrist party, La République En Marche!, won only 29 seats in the Senate. 170 out of 348 seats were contested. The center-right Republicans remain the largest party in the upper chamber, followed by the mainstream Socialists.
  2. The outcome of the German election means the liberal Free Democrats are almost certain to be part of Angela Merkel’s next coalition government and they are skeptical of Macron’s proposals for deeper EU integration. Read more

Macron a Failure Already?

French president Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference in Brussels, June 23
French president Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference in Brussels, June 23 (Facebook)

Chris Bickerton makes a strong argument in The New York Times: Emmanuel Macron is on track to become yet another failed French president.

Bickerton, who teaches European politics at Cambridge University, knows France well. But here I think he misses the mark. Read more

Macron, Unperturbed by Falling Popularity, Pushes Labor Reforms in France

French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Xavier Bettel and Justin Trudeau, the prime ministers of Luxembourg and Canada, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25
French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Xavier Bettel and Justin Trudeau, the prime ministers of Luxembourg and Canada, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

The government of Emmanuel Macron has introduced its first labor reforms in France. They include:

  • Capping the damages judges can award to workers who have been wrongfully terminated at one month’s pay for every year of employment.
  • Raising the compensation for workers who are laid off for legitimate economic reasons by 25 percent.
  • Enabling employers to bypass union-dominated workers’ councils and call company-wide referendums on sensitive topics like overtime.
  • Allowing multinationals to lay off workers at loss-making French subsidiaries even if the foreign-based parent company is profitable.

After a summer of consultations, two of France’s three largest trade unions — the Democratic Confederation of Labor and Workers’ Force — have given their consent to the reforms. The hardline General Confederation of Labor remains opposed and has called a nationwide strike for September 12.

No matter the resistance unions put up, the liberalizations are almost certain to be rubber-stamped by parliament, which is controlled by Macron’s party. Read more