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 “Macron a Failure Already?”

Negotiations for Labor Reform Break Down in Netherlands

The Hague Netherlands
Dutch government offices and parliament buildings in The Hague (iStock/Fotolupa)

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 “Negotiations for Labor Reform Break Down in Netherlands”

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 “The End of the Working Class and What Comes Next”

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, Unperturbed by Falling Popularity, Pushes Labor Reforms in France”

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 “Macron Wins Central European Support for Posted-Workers Reform”

Coal and Steel? Donald Trump Is Living in the Past

Theresa May Donald Trump
British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

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 “Coal and Steel? Donald Trump Is Living in the Past”

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

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15, 2016 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

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

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 “Macron Makes Start with Labor Reform in France”

Dutch Feel Labor Market Liberalization Has Gone Too Far

Amsterdam Netherlands
Night falls on the Damrak in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Unsplash/Elias Ehmann)

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 “Dutch Feel Labor Market Liberalization Has Gone Too Far”

Asscher Unites Dutch Left Against Further Labor Reforms

Dutch Labor Party leader Lodewijk Asscher makes a speech in The Hague, October 31, 2016
Dutch Labor Party leader Lodewijk Asscher makes a speech in The Hague, October 31, 2016 (SWZ)

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 “Asscher Unites Dutch Left Against Further Labor Reforms”