France’s François Hollande is beset by rivals from inside his left-wing coalition. On the far left, former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg is mulling a presidential bid. On the right of the Socialist Party, Montebourg’s successor, Emmanuel Macron, just launched a “movement” that seems to serve no purpose other than to advance the former investment banker’s political ambitions.
French economy minister Emmanuel Macron launched a political movement on Wednesday that he says aims to unite people from the left and the right around a program of reform.
Macron, nominally a Socialist, denied that the movement is meant to propel him into a presidential candidacy for 2017, but French presidential hopefuls do have a tendency to launch political “movements” one of two years out from an election.
Macron’s announcement comes only days after former conservative party secretary Jean-François Copé launched his own bid for the presidency. The rightwinger fell out with his former boss and current party leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2014 over a financial scandal and would now seek to deny him the Republicans’ presidential nomination.
Neither Copé nor Macron is likely to end up as a presidential candidate, let alone president of France. But the noise they’re making speaks volumes about the perceived timidity of their respective party leaders: Sarkozy and his successor, François Hollande. Read more “Copé, Macron Highlight Timidity of French Parties”
France’s economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, unveiled a series of economic reforms on Wednesday that are meant to convince the country’s European Union partners it is committed to liberalization even as it fails to meet the bloc’s budget rules this year.
On the day France submitted its budget to Brussels for review, Macron presented a deregulation bill that would allow more stores to open on Sundays, free up competition in intercity bus transport and loosen rules for regulated professions such as chemists and notaries.
“The weight of laws and rules has become unbearable,” Macron told a news conference. “We need to simplify, drastically.”
Macron, a former investment banker, served as President François Hollande’s personal economic advisor before he replaced the far-leftist Arnaud Montebourg as economy minister in August. Montebourg lost his job after describing France’s efforts to rein in its deficit spending as “financial absurdity.”
Whether Macron can buy time for fiscal consolidation with his liberal reforms remains to be seen.
Earlier this month, the government rejected deeper austerity, prompting criticism is was reneging on its commitments. The European Commission could fine France for failing to bring its deficit in line with the 3 percent treaty limit. It had previously promised to reduce its shortfall by next year, a deadline that had already been extended from 2013.
The French economy expanded just .2 percent last year after zero growth in 2012, the year Socialist Party leader Hollande was elected president. The national statistics agency forecasts .7 percent growth for 2014 while the government had based its fiscal plans on 1 percent growth.
Absent from Macron’s reform plans were any proposals to reduce France’s high labor costs which, at €34 per hour, they far exceed the European average of €23. They are particularly burdensome because nonwage costs, including high social contributions for employers, make up a third of the average salary.
France’s 34.4 percent corporate tax rate is also more than twice as high as Germany’s 15.8 percent rate.