Macron’s Liberalization Has Made Travel More Affordable in France

View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 5, 2012
View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 5, 2012 (Chris Chabot)

Emmanuel Macron’s liberalization of intercity public transport in France is paying off.

Until 2015, railroads had a monopoly on domestic ground routes of 100 kilometers or more. Macron — then economy minister, now president — wrote legislation that allowed busses to compete.

Bloomberg reports that 6.2 million passengers took a long-distance bus in 2016 and bookings are up another 25 percent this year.

That’s still a fraction of the more than 100 million annual high-speed train passengers, but competition from busses is forcing the state-owned railway to cut rates. Read more

Immigration Could Be Macron’s Achilles’ Heel

French president Emmanuel Macron attends a military remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, May 15
French president Emmanuel Macron attends a military remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, May 15 (Facebook)

Patrick Chamorel makes another fine point in his essay about Emmanuel Macron in The American Interest.

He points out that the French president has barely talked about crime, immigration, integration and terrorism:

His emphasis on the necessary liberalization of the economy disproportionately reflects the preoccupations of the most urban, educated and prosperous sections of the population.

In smaller cities and the countryside, people worry about other things. Read more

Macron Takes Inspiration from California and Scandinavia

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron (Facebook)

Patrick Chamorel, who specializes in comparing American and European politics, argues in The American Interest that French president Emmanuel Macron’s economic vision is a mix of the Californian and Scandinavian models:

On the one hand, an embrace of start-up culture, a preference for entrepreneurship over rent-seeking, outsiders over insiders and individual mobility over jobs-for-life; on the other, he evinces a belief in the positive role government can play to protect the weak and equalize access to opportunities.

Macron wants to free companies from excessive social costs and bureaucratic constraints, but he has also pledged €50 billion in public investments. Read more

Don’t Read Too Much into Macron’s Falling Popularity

French president Emmanuel Macron waits for the arrival of a guest outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, July 6
French president Emmanuel Macron waits for the arrival of a guest outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, July 6 (World Bank/Ibrahim Ajaja)

There is a bit of schadenfraude on the far left and the right about French president Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating, which has sunk from 64 to 54 percent in one month. See, Marxists and conservatives howl, the Little Napoleon is already disappointing the French.

They’re probably getting ahead of themselves.

The Guardian reports:

Disapproval is strongest among certain demographics — civil servants, pensioners and supporters of the Mouvement démocrate party.

Which is hardly surprising when Macron intends to fire tens of thousands of bureaucrats, has proposed to bring public-sector pensions in line with those in the private sector and lost three ministers of the Democratic Movement to a spending scandal. Read more

Accusations of “Imperial” Macron Are Over the Top

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)

Emmanuel Macron has come under criticism for creating an “imperial” or “Jupiterian” presidency in France.

A speech in Versailles today, in which he is due to brief lawmakers on his agenda, is the latest example.

The French don’t have a “state of union” tradition. Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande, only assembled a joint session of parliament once and that was after the 2015 terrorist attacks.

The setting — the palace of Sun King Louis XIV — lends credence to the accusations against Macron, but this is unfair. Joint sessions of parliament always gather in Versailles, simply because neither the National Assembly nor the Senate can seat so many lawmakers. Read more

Macron Makes Start with Labor Reform in France

Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen is greeted by French president Emmanuel Macron outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, June 9
Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen is greeted by French president Emmanuel Macron outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, June 9 (Facebook)

French president Emmanuel Macron has unveiled his first labor reforms:

  • Capping the damages judges can award to employees who have been wrongfully terminated.
  • Merging workers’ councils in companies.
  • Enabling employers to go around workers’ councils — which are often dominated by trade unions — 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.

“The idea is to loosen the rules while also ensuring safeguards for employees,” Muriel Pénicaud, the labor minister, said. Read more

Chemical Weapons in Syria Would Cross “Red Line”: Macron

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Emmanuel Macron of France speak outside the Palace of Versailles, May 29
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Emmanuel Macron of France speak outside the Palace of Versailles, May 29 (Elysée)

France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, has warned that his country could strike unilaterally if more poison gas is used in the Syrian conflict.

“If chemical weapons are used on the ground and we know how to find out their provenance, France will launch strikes to destroy the chemical weapons stocks,” he told European newspapers this week. Read more