Italy’s Democrats Split, EU Victory for Macron, Doubts About Syria Strikes

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 29, 2016
Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 29, 2016 (Palazzo Chigi)

Italy’s Democrats are split on whether to negotiate with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

At a party meeting on Tuesday, former ministers Dario Franceschini and Andrea Orlando argued for coalition talks.

The alternative, a Five Star government with the xenophobic (Northern) League, would make Italy look “like Hungary,” Franceschini said.

However, centrists loyal to the outgoing leader, Matteo Renzi, reject a deal.

Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio has said it is time to “bury the hatchet”. His talks with the League have not been going well. But the Five Stars still call for overturning Renzi’s signature labor reforms, which made it easier for firms to fire and hire workers. 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

Macron a Failure Already?

Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14 (Elysée/Nathalie Bauer)

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

Negotiations for Labor Reform Break Down in Netherlands

The port of Rotterdam in the early morning, March 14, 2014
The port of Rotterdam in the early morning, March 14, 2014 (Haaijk)

Labor negotiations between employers’ organizations and trade unions have broken down in the Netherlands.

Both sides blame the other, but employers had the bigger incentive to let the talks collapse.

Without a deal, it will be up to the next government to impose reforms and the four parties negotiating to form a government are center-right. They are expected to enact more employer- than worker-friendly changes. Read more

The End of the Working Class and What Comes Next

Detail of a New Deal-era mural in the Coit Tower of San Francisco, California, January 6, 2009
Detail of a New Deal-era mural in the Coit Tower of San Francisco, California, January 6, 2009 (Thomas Hawk)

Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rising popularity of the National Front in France have all been explained as working-class revolts against urban, liberal elites (including by me.)

The Niskanen Center’s Brink Lindsey argues in The American Interest that this isn’t quite right. These democratic expressions of discontent should rather be understood as the convulsions of a working class that is dying. 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

Macron Wins Central European Support for Posted-Workers Reform

Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23
Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23 (BKA/Andy Wenzel)

French president Emmanuel Macron has won support from the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia for reform of the EU’s posted-workers regime.

“We are prepared work with all our partners on a technical level to agree an adjustment of the Posted Workers Directive so that we can overcome the split in the EU,” Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said following a four-nation summit in Salzburg.

Robert Fico, his Slovak counterpart, suggested a deal could be reached by October. Read more