Coal and Steel? Donald Trump Is Living in the Past

American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26
American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump isn’t big on technology.

“I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly,” he said last year. (The computers.)

The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.

By “nobody”, he means himself.

On another occasion, the president said, “I’m just not a believer in email.”

By contrast, Trump has spoken at length about American coal and steel and his desire to revive the two industries.

This doesn’t make economic sense. Read more

Merkel’s Plan Strong on Taxes and Spending, Disappointing on Migration

Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, September 28, 2015
Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, September 28, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s party promises long-overdue investments in its election manifesto, but a plan for attracting high-skilled migrants is unconvincing.

The Christian Democrats, who are projected to win the most votes in September’s election, pledge to sustain recent increases in spending on digitalization and infrastructure and raise spending on research and development from 3 to 3.5 percent of the economy.

German public investment has languished for years as the Christian Democrats prioritized deficit reduction. The Dutch and Swedes invest twice as much in everything from electricity grids to roads. 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

Dutch Feel Labor Market Liberalization Has Gone Too Far

Canal houses are reflected in the window of a gift shop in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, October 5, 2013
Canal houses are reflected in the window of a gift shop in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, October 5, 2013 (mini malist)

The Dutch election campaign is overshadowed by the rise of nationalist party leader Geert Wilders and his controversial views on the European Union and Islam.

But don’t overlook what could be one of the stickiest point in coalition talks after the election in March: the liberalization of the labor market.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals, on the right, and the liberal Democrats, in the center, are both likely to be part of the next government. Both want to free up the labor market, but polls suggest that many of their voters agree with the left that liberalization has already gone too far. Read more

Asscher Unites Dutch Left Against Further Labor Reforms

Dutch social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher visits Amsterdam, November 9, 2016
Dutch social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher visits Amsterdam, November 9, 2016 (SZW/Bibi Neuray)

Labor Party leader Lodewijk Asscher has united left-wing parties in the Netherlands against further liberalizations of the labor market.

Asscher, who serves as social affairs minister in the outgoing coalition government of Mark Rutte, called for a pact to defend workers’ rights this weekend.

The Greens and far-left Socialist Party were quick to embrace his proposals. Read more

Refinery Strikes Typical of French Labor Relations

Members of the Workers' Force union demonstrate against proposed labor reforms in Paris, France, May 12
Members of the Workers’ Force union demonstrate against proposed labor reforms in Paris, France, May 12 (FO)

France announced on Wednesday it would tap into its strategic oil reserves to make up for shortages caused by strikes at oil depots and refineries.

Some train and metro workers have joined the action to protest proposed changes in the labor code.

Earlier this month, President François Hollande’s Socialist Party government introduced reforms that would make it easier for firm to lay off workers and give small companies more flexibility to negotiate wages and conditions directly with their employees.

Most unions, many of which are affiliated with the Socialist Party, have endorsed the reforms, which were watered down in order to win their support.

But the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and Workers’ Force (FO), the country’s first and third largest federations, are divided. Read more

Parliaments Force Rethink of Workers Directive Reform

Seat of the Estonian parliament in Toompea Castle, Tallinn, February 1, 2015
Seat of the Estonian parliament in Toompea Castle, Tallinn, February 1, 2015 (Guillaume Speurt)

Ten Central and Eastern European countries plus Denmark have forced the European Commission to reconsider reforms that would raise wages for workers from those nations if they are employed abroad.

The three Baltic states, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia all object to changes in the so-called Posted Workers Directive that would make their workers less competitive.

With the support of Denmark, they meet the eleven-country threshold needed to trigger a “yellow card” procedure. This was introduced in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty to give national parliaments the power to delay European legislation.

The commission is under no obligation to withdraw its proposal, however, which enjoy broad support.

Valentin Kreilinger, a research fellow at the Jacques Delors Institut in Berlin, tells EurActiv that a “yellow card” has only been invoked twice before. Once the commission withdrew its proposal; the other time it stayed the course. Read more