Emmanuel Macron is due to meet his American counterpart, Donald Trump, in Washington DC next week. Erik Brattberg and Philippe Le Corre write in The National Interest that he will have four priorities:
Staking out a common stance on Syria.
Preserving European exemptions from Trump’s tariffs by pushing for a transatlantic trade agreement.
Convincing Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.
Angela Merkel’s response to Emmanuel Macron’s EU reform push is to beef up the Eurogroup: the regular conclave of finance ministers from the nineteen countries that use the single currency. Merkel would add economy ministers to the meetings and expand the Eurogroup’s remit to include all areas of economic policy.
Mehreen Khan argues in the Financial Times that it’s a good way to sabotage eurozone reform: “you effectively hollow out decisionmaking power and create a glorified talking shop.”
I think that’s an exaggeration, but Merkel and Macron do have different priorities.
The former, backed by a Dutch-led alliance of liberal member states, calls for structural reforms to boost competitiveness in the south. Macron argues for investments to promote convergence.
Eric Maurice writes in EUobserver that French president Emmanuel Macron’s biggest challenges comes from Berlin, where Angela Merkel and her conservative party are skeptical of plans to create a European Monetary Fund and establish a European deposit insurance scheme to protect savers:
Although the two plans were initiated by the EU before Macron took them, their rejection would signal a clear rebuttal of the French president’s more ambitious proposals for the longer term.
Merkel hasn’t ruled out a European Monetary Fund, but — like the Dutch and other deficit hawks in the north of Europe — she wants it to be an “intergovernmental”, as opposed to an EU-led, institution.
Germany isn’t in favor of creating a eurozone budget and finance minister either.
The moderate French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT) has joined the hardline General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in weekly strikes against a proposed overhaul of the state railway company, yet President Emmanuel Macron shows no sign of budging.
Most French voters support his effort to end generous employment terms for new — not existing — rail workers, including automatic pay rises and early retirement.
Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un to meet one-on-one. It would be the first time a sitting American president met with the North Korean dictator.
North Korea craves international legitimacy, which the United States have deliberately withheld. Trump’s break with decades of policy is risky — but it’s not if existing policy has worked. North Korea remains a rogue state. It has only continued its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.
The challenge now, as Fred Kaplan writes in Slate, is organizing a careful diplomacy that includes coordinating common negotiating positions with Japan and South Korea.
Unfortunately, Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to Seoul. The State Department’s top North Korea expert has resigned. None of the three top foreign-policy officials in Trump’s government — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — have much experience in Asia.
The Washington Post reports that officials in at least four countries — China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates — have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, “by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign-policy experience.”
Officials in the White House were reportedly concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner and not with more experienced personnel.
Despite having no political or policy experience, Kushner was put in charge of everything from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to American relations with Mexico.
Politico reports that he has now lost his access to top-secret intelligence along with other officials in the White House who did not clear background checks.
Emmanuel Macron touched one third rail of French politics and didn’t die: labor reform. Now he is grabbing the other: agriculture.
French farmers rely heavily on EU agricultural subsidies and are generally less innovative (defenders would say more traditional) than their peers in Germany and the Netherlands, the two largest exporters of agricultural goods in Europe.
Macron has already opened the door to subsidy reform, arguing that, due to Brexit, cuts are inevitable.
At the same time, he has promised €5 billion in public investments to kickstart a “cultural revolution” in the sector.
When French president Emmanuel Macron’s popularity was down earlier this year, I cautioned against reading too much into it.
Macron has four years left until he must face voters again. His party has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly and he enjoys the support of both businesses and the largest trade unions for economic reforms.