Make Up Macron Is Trying To Undermine The EU’s Single Market – Forbes

French President Emmanuel Macron waves after visiting the Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy, in Varna on August 25, 2017.?Macron meet with the prime minister and president of Bulgaria during a regional tour to discuss the free movement of labour within the EU and other issues. / AFP PHOTO / Bertrand GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Much the most amusing story about France’s new President Macron is his make up bill, some $30,000 just for his first three months. Rather less appealing is his insistence that the European Union needs to start placing limits on one of the few good things about the organisation, that internal Single Market. He wants to do this by undermining the free movement of labour–one of the very things which the bloc is most insistent is at the heart of the entire project. And, despite my own hatred of the organisation as a whole, one of the few things which is appealing about it in the first place.

The trivial but amusing first:

It’s not Maybelline, but maybe Emmanuel Macron isn’t born with it: France reportedly spent 26,000 euros ($30,000) on makeup for its new president in the first three months of his term.

The hefty cost to taxpayers of making the handsome young leader appear even more handsome prompted criticism on French social media that migrated across the pond. So much, Americans said, for the narrative of Macron as a progressive savior: Look how much the boy king’s subjects are spending on his pretty face while the working man suffers.

Well, yes, although I do have a certain sympathy. I’ve worked in front line politics and make up for the TV is vital. That’s how most people do see politicians, on the TV, and the lights used to film do make you look bad, even ill, if you’ve not got make up on. Having said that, $30,000 is really a lot of TV make up.

On to the more substantive matter:

A bitter exchange of words erupted between France and Poland on Friday after French President Emmanuel Macron sharply criticized Poland’s opposition to plans to change European Union rules on “posted workers” – the cheap labor from eastern countries sent to more prosperous EU nations.
On a trip Friday to Bulgaria, Macron said the Polish reluctance to reform the bloc’s labor rules is “an illustration of the mistakes made by this government.”

The French unions absolutely hate, hate, the idea that a Pole, working for a Polish company, can come and work in France on Polish wages. They’ve got to be paid at least French minimum wage but don’t have to be paid the usual union agreed rates at all. So, of course the unions hate that, they’re losing their monopoly on determining wage rates.

The spat erupted on Macron’s final day of a short tour through Austria, Romania and Bulgaria, as he seeks to win support for changing the so-called Posted Workers Directive at an EU summit on October 19th-20th.

The regulation lets firms send workers from low-wage countries to wealthier economies on short-term assignments without paying their hosts’ social charges.

The rule has caused resentment in western countries like France, Germany and Austria, which argue it amounts to “social dumping” and creates unfair competition on national labour markets.

It’s not the social charges which are the issue, it’s the competition on the labour markets. But then that competition is the very point of the Single Market itself. The aim, really, is that for economic purposes the inside of the EU should all be treated as if it’s just the one country. And thus people from anywhere can work anywhere.

Think of it this way–say we’ve an economy like the US, where there are large regional differences in wages. Say we want to hire long distance truckers (and much of this in Europe is about truckers). The average wage in, say, Manhattan is $60,000, that in Sticksville, West Virginia, $30,000 now the coal mines are closed. Our truckers are going to be driving around and across the country wherever they are from. Well, where are we going to send our adverts saying “Truckers? Come Work For me!” Well, I don’t know about you but I’m going to be sending them to where the truckers work at half price.

That’s just what happens inside a single national market. The Single Market is supposed to work that way too–what Macron’s trying to do is undermine that. And to be honest if there’s not to be a Single Market then there’s no real reason to have the EU at all.