The Strategist

Macron steps up negotiations with Europe

08/23/2017 - 14:27

Emmanuel Macron’s popularity in public opinion polls is falling and he is struggling to implement its labor market control policy. Yet, he still hopes for a number of successful negotiations in Europe to prove that his position is consistent and practical.

Lorie Shaull
Lorie Shaull
Macron put fulfillment of his main election promise at stake. Namely, he believes that belonging to the European bloc is not just budgetary asceticism and free market reform, but also an opportunity to offer employees the best protection in the face of global competition.

"The whole argument of Macron against Marin Le Pen was that Europe needs to be recharged and that it could provide protection," said Philippe Waechter, head of economic research at Natixis Asset in Paris. According to him, now Macron will have to implement the main parts of his program.

The 39-year-old president will begin his trip in the Austrian city of Salzburg, where Czech and Slovak leaders will join him for talks with Chancellor Christian Kern. Then Macron will travel to Romania on Thursday, and to Bulgaria - on Friday. There, he will insist on tightening the rules restricting employment foreign nationals in other countries, as well as on broader European cooperation on issues related to migration and defense.

Next week he will receive fellow leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, and then meet with the Benelux premiers before the trip to Greece on September 7. Macron’s key question is "individual workers", which usually come from Eastern Europe to work. When hiring French citizens, these jobs would be more expensive.

There are about 300 thousand such employees in France, and their employers save considerably on them. The minimum wage in France is about 1480 euros ($ 1,740) per month. In Poland it is about 450 euros.

Macron wants the EU rules to limit each individual worker to one year of work out of two in the host country. The purpose of the restrictions is to ensure compliance with the minimum wage and social charges requirements, and to encourage cooperation between governments in the fight against fraud.

Earlier it was reported that President of the Fifth Republic wants to review more than 3 thousand pages of the labor legislation. French employers complain that the current rules hinder hiring, making this process too complicated, and when employees are fired, they face big financial risks. The government proposes to give private companies more freedom in internal matters, as well as to limit fines for the dismissal of employees.

Changes in the rules will be published at the end of August, when the majority of employees return after the summer holidays to ensure enforcement in September.

The reform of labor law in France was created by Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri in the government of former President Francois Hollande. It allows employers to increase number of working hours, and also creates a simplified procedure for dismissal of workers.


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