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
Many Westerners interpret Russia’s behavior in the Arctic as offensive, going back to 2007, when the country resumed air and naval patrols in the area and planted its flag under the North Pole.
Alexander Sergunin, a professor of international relations at Saint Petersburg State University, argues The Wilson Quarterly that the reality is more nuanced. On balance, he writes, Moscow’s policy is pragmatic. Read more
Macron, Unperturbed by Falling Popularity, Pushes Labor Reforms in France
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
British politicians from the ruling Conservative and the opposition Labour Party agree there needs to be a “transition” between leaving the EU in the spring of 2019 and implementing a post-Brexit trade deal.
During that period, the United Kingdom would formally be out, but the rules of the customs union and the single market would still apply. Imports and exports would be unaffected. British companies would still be able to operate in continental Europe and vice versa. Economic disruption would be minimal.
It sounds great, but the British have forgotten one thing: to ask the remaining 27 member states what they think. Read more