We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

May 27, 2016

French labour law: withdraw, negotiate or force it through?

There were scenes of violent clashes and paralysis in France on Thursday. Rail, metro and air transport were down. Petrol and electricity shortages occurred as seven of France’s eight petroleum refineries remained shut last night, and sixteen of 19 nuclear power plants are also on strike. Newspaper editors accused the CGT of blackmail, after the union prevented the publication and distribution of all daily newspapers except the communist L’Humanité on Thursday. It was the only newspaper that agreed to publish a one-page opinion piece by CGT leader Philippe Martinez. 

On the political front, Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls continue to refuse to be blackmailed by one trade union. But for a government to get trade unions in such an outrage is against the Socialists’ instincts.  This is perhaps behind Michel Sapin's outburst when he suggested yesterday that the contentious article 2 of the labour law, which gives priority to an accord within a company to sector-wide agreements with labour unions, might be re-written. Manuel Valls rejected this immediately, but left the door open by writing that “modifications and improvements are always possible.”

Valls has three options now. He can withdraw the law, similarly to what Francois Hollande did with the law stripping citizenship from terrorists. But this would most certainly trigger his resignation, as he has put too much political capital behind this reform. The second option is to make changes to article 2. This would not meet the CGT’s demands for complete withdrawal, and it does not look like they are in a mood for compromise. The third option is to force the law through by decree, and risk the loss of some of his MPs, alienating the public, or disruptions to the Euro 2016 football tournament. An Elabe poll for BFMTV showed that nearly seven in 10 French people now want to see the law withdrawn.

Show Comments Write a Comment

May 27, 2016

France and Germany seek deeper integration post-Brexit (but not on the eurozone)

The FT reports on "secret discussions" by senior EU officials at several meetings over the last few weeks about the consequences of Brexit. One of the suggestions that was made was to "double down on the irreversibility of our union", but participants were also aware of the obstacles to further integration. France and Germany do not want to integrate the eurozone any further, according to this article, but to step up defence and security co-operation. We liked the quote attributed to one unnamed diplomat:

"Everybody will say: 'We’re sorry, this is a historical disaster but now we have to move on.' And then they will say 'OK, David, goodbye, because now we have to meet as 27 leaders.'"

The article says that France in particular was worried about the contagion of a Brexit vote, and favours a punitive approach towards the UK post-Brexit. Another diplomat is quoted as saying it would be the end of the EU if Brexit turned out to be a success. Berlin favours a different approach. It would be better if the penalty was delivered by the private sector, a German official is quoted. The FT also writes that there were big divisions between Jean-Claude Juncker and Mario Draghi on the one side, who see Brexit as an impetus for further eurozone integration, and Donald Tusk and Jeroen Djisselbloem, who do not. This difference of views makes it more likely that the nexus of further European integration will be the foreign and security policy.

We also noted a very gloomy column by Charles Grant, who probably understands the Brexit debate better than anyone else. We are at a point where Grant is more pessimistic on the outcome than we are. He says that, as of now, neither side has a clear advantage. He then writes a fictional account of an analysis dated June 24, the day after Britain voted to leave the EU. He noted that the Brexiteers' most effective argument has been that leaving the EU will make it easier for Britain to curb the number of immigrants (note that British eurosceptics consider EU nationals who live in the UK as immigrants!). The majority of those voted for Brexit were not aware that migrants contributed more in taxes than they received in terms of benefits and public services. Remain lost, he writes, because they lacked an effective response to concerns about immigration. What did not help was the David Cameron himself talked up the problem with his emphasis on in-work benefits. Nobody believed that the deal he got would alter the situation greatly. He said the Brexit campaign exaggerated many of their points, but they did not lie. The pro-EU lobby had a much tougher task:

"...the arguments for staying in were complex, numerical, hard to explain and often dull. It focused on the risks of Brexit for the UK’s economy and security. These arguments proved powerful with parts of the electorate but failed to motivate sufficient numbers of youngsters, who tend to be pro-EU. On June 24th, when the Outers scraped home to a narrow victory, and Cameron resigned, the pollsters explained that low turnout of younger voters had been decisive."

We noted yesterday that the comment by Martin Selmayr, Juncker's chief of staff, putting Boris Johnson in the same category as Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, is not helpful for the Remain campaign. Nor are reports on secret meetings in which EU officials discuss sanctions against Britain. Maybe those who were quoted in this article believe that this would frighten the British. We think the opposite is the case. It might strengthen their resolve. And the pro-Brexit campaign will surely read with interest that the thing EU officials are most concerned about is that Brexit could turn out to be a success.

Show Comments Write a Comment

May 27, 2016

Merkel wants to renew Russia sanctions

As we are approaching the German elections, expect to see more rhetorical differences between the CDU/CSU and the SPD. We call them rhetorical because most of them are intended for the election campaign. Once the SPD is back in government, it will converge back towards the CDU as it has always done in the past. 

There is one lingering difference that matters however. Angela Merkel wants to keep the sanctions against Russia for now, while the SPD wants them lifted. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is as close to Russia as Gerhard Schroder was, and Sigmar Gabriel is only a little more distant. Both the left and the right of the SPD have traditionally maintained good relations with Russia, the most notorious case was obviously Schroder himself.

Frankfurter Allgemeine quotes Merkel as saying that there has been some progress in the implementation of the Minsk accord. There are no longer massive military confrontations in eastern Ukraine, but there is no real ceasefire either. And there is no progress on electoral reform and on local elections. She says it is too early to give the all-clear on sanctions. Gabriel said it was wrong for the EU to insist on a 100% implementation of the Minsk according as a pre-condition for a 100% lifting of sanctions.

Show Comments Write a Comment

May 27, 2016

Towards a third Spanish election?

Spanish election polls yield a robust conclusion, and that is that it will be just as difficult to for a governing majority after June 26 as it was after December 20. This is beginning to make the establishment nervous, and the Círculo de Economía has organised a gathering with all the major parties to discuss alternatives to gridlock. They are proposing an agreement to let the most voted party - presumably, the PP in this instance - form a government if no other arrangement can be found like it is done in local governments by law to avoid repeat elections there. Xavier Vidal-Folch notes that this was proposed already in the 1990s but it never stuck, and observes that, in order to work, there must be a consensus among all parties to do this. Otherwise, the political cost to the parties that enable the minority government - presumably, in this case, the PSOE to Podemos' benefit - can be unbearable. The King, in his ceremonial and neutral role, could hardly demand publicly that the parties do this, so Vidal-Folch rhetorically asks his readers for proposals. 

It has made headlines that Pablo Iglesias of Podemos took part in a business gathering in Catalonia, whereas the previous year he was not invited. Facing scepticism from the participants from economics and business, he made an attempt to present himself as pragmatic and advocated a "new social democracy". 

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • December 15, 2017
  • Amendment 9 conundrum
  • The negligible GDP impact of the single market
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 01, 2017
  • Unemployment insurance for all - nice idea, but does it work?
  • Hard border paradox
  • Could Jeremy Corbyn be the politician to defeat the banks?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 17, 2017
  • Germany's climate change hypocrisy
  • Canada minus the plus
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 02, 2017
  • The Impact of Brexit
  • German court of auditors questions diesel tax break
  • On trade and violence
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 18, 2017
  • Veneto and Lombardy to vote on autonomy
  • Portugal's president calls on government over fires
  • Radical ideas for radical times: how to pay off public debt
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 03, 2017
  • A short note about UK politics
  • The impact of the German elections on the euro debate
  • The decline and fall of Martin Schulz and the SPD
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 01, 2017
  • Rutte deflates Dutch labour party like a hot air balloon
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 28, 2017
  • German government bans Porsche Cayenne
  • More troubles for the AfD
  • Of course there will be a soft transitional period for the UK
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 21, 2017
  • Why has the SPD deflated?
  • Berlusconi’s strategy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 01, 2017
  • On how to fix the eurozone
  • What happens if there is no Article 50 agreement?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 11, 2017
  • Germany rejects IMF’s policy recommendations before they are issued
  • Why Labour is losing
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 20, 2017
  • Don’t bet on Trump turning globalist
  • A note on UK election polls
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • March 02, 2017
  • Juncker's scenarios for Europe
  • EU minimum wages are rising
  • No, the Lords didn’t stop Brexit
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 15, 2017
  • A Christmas bonus for poor Greeks
  • Dim prospects of negotiated de-escalation on Catalonia
  • Macron's favourite to succeed Juncker - first round
  • On sovereignty
  • Gli Azzurri
  • February 03, 2017
  • The Schulz effect is getting huge
  • The post-Brexit boom goes on and on and on
  • A correction on Catalonia
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • December 01, 2016
  • Will Italian expats swing the referendum result?
  • Why we keep on misreading the polls
  • Si vis pactum, para bellum
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 23, 2017
  • Macron's plans for the European Parliament
  • First phase of Brexit negotiations in final stretch
  • Why the left hates Europe
  • April 23, 2017
  • The demise of the AfD has accelerated dramatically
  • On how France will need to confront Germany
  • October 24, 2016
  • Ceta - the next deadline
  • Who will lead Germany?
  • Peasant party upsets Lithuanian election
  • Ségolène Royal, seriously?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 22, 2017
  • The last German polls
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • November 21, 2017
  • A short note on the impact of German political chaos on Brexit
  • A scandal, overshadowed
  • October 20, 2017
  • Why is everybody so nice to Mrs May?
  • The haphazard Rutte III agreement
  • Liberalism for the French left
  • September 20, 2017
  • AfD on the rise
  • Is this the end of the FN as we know it?
  • Refugees overflowing Lesvos lead to call for action
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 24, 2017
  • Macron's popularity falls amid more budget cuts
  • Orbán to support Polish government against EU
  • No exit from Brexit
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • May 30, 2017
  • Beer tent politics - Merkel edition
  • Brexit arrives in UK elections
  • Rajoy clears budget hurdle
  • May 02, 2017
  • An accident waiting to happen
  • Matteo Renzi wins PD primaries
  • So much for the Schulz effect
  • April 07, 2017
  • Who gets 40% in elections nowadays?
  • What’s so puzzling about the productivity puzzle?
  • Why this time is different in German poitics
  • March 15, 2017
  • On the nuances of Spain's position on Scotland
  • On how not to deal with Turkey
  • February 21, 2017
  • Schulz to undo Schroder’s Agenda 2010
  • Dutch minister under fire for disability benefit fiasco
  • On what to do about Germany’s current account surplus
  • Untouchable Le Pen
  • January 30, 2017
  • On the illusion of choice
  • January 09, 2017
  • FN campaign troubles
  • Objectionable perhaps, but muddled?
  • December 19, 2016
  • Inside the customs union, outside the single market
  • Back to the future in Italy
  • The lessons from Fillon's first gaffe
  • Montebourg - a bit of everything
  • The Maastricht error
  • If Paul Romer is right...
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • November 11, 2016
  • What Trump means for Europe ...
  • ... for the economy ...
  • The new era of chaqu’un pour soi
  • October 26, 2016
  • Renzi threatens to veto EU budget
  • The politics of a hard Brexit
  • Hollande at 4%
  • October 10, 2016
  • Waking up to the hardness of Brexit
  • September 26, 2016
  • A weekend of insurrection
  • The radicalisation of the French mainstream
  • Leaving the customs union
  • Meanwhile in Bosnia...
  • September 12, 2016
  • Renzi and his internal opposition
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • August 15, 2016
  • Sarkozy to declare his candidacy
  • Do intra-eurozone current account deficits matter?
  • On the failures of modern macroeconomics
  • July 26, 2016
  • The limits of May's freedom of manoeuvre
  • Don't misread the lack of visible panic in Germany
  • July 13, 2016
  • Brexit could take six years to complete
  • Macron - a modern Brutus?
  • The failings of Steinmeier
  • July 04, 2016
  • Hard women, hard Brexit
  • We'll miss the EU when it's gone
  • June 27, 2016
  • ... 'twere well it were done quickly
  • June 20, 2016
  • Neck and neck once more
  • How to defeat populism
  • June 14, 2016
  • Guiano running in Republican primaries
  • On the difficulties to promote labour movement in the EU
  • How to save TTIP
  • June 10, 2016
  • What after Brexit?
  • The decisive battle of the French left
  • A new era of Italian politics
  • June 06, 2016
  • Leave's lead is widening
  • The significance of Gauck
  • Five Star Movement about to take Rome
  • June 02, 2016
  • Watch out for a fudge over Turkey
  • With friends like Tusk
  • May 31, 2016
  • Grand Coalition below 50%
  • Strikes to continue in France
  • Which crisis will blow up first?
  • Verhofstadt loses patience with the pro-Europeans
  • May 27, 2016
  • French labour law: withdraw, negotiate or force it through?
  • France and Germany seek deeper integration post-Brexit (but not on the eurozone)
  • Merkel wants to renew Russia sanctions
  • Towards a third Spanish election?