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Posts Tagged ‘France’

The End of “Peak Germany” and the Return of France

Posted by hkarner - 19. August 2019

Arnab Das

Arnab Das is Global Market Strategist at a London-based asset management firm.

Jacek Rostowski was Poland’s Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister from 2007 to 2013.Europe works best, as the old quip has it, with the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in. Today’s new European order has the Russians up, the Germans on the way down, the Americans potentially bowing out, Britons struggling toward Brexit – and France rising.

LONDON – At first blush, the result of the European Parliament election in May, and the subsequent nomination of the European Union’s new leadership team, augur continuity and not disruption for the bloc. Nationalist parties failed to make any significant gains in the election, and then large Western European status quo powers hand-picked federalists for the top EU jobs. In particular, the choice of Ursula von der Leyen to be the next president of the European Commission – making her the first German to hold the post in a half-century – seemed to confirm Germany’s continued dominance in Europe.

Yet undercurrents frequently diverge from the surface flow. History suggests that hegemons often assume formal leadership as their power wanes, not when it is strengthening. Today, several factors threaten Germany’s status as the EU top dog – and France stands to be the main beneficiary.Until now, German dominance has rested on two main pillars: seemingly permanent American defense guarantees, and the country’s world-leading manufacturing firms and massive net-creditor position. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Neue Kommissionschefin von der Leyen: Partystimmung in Paris

Posted by hkarner - 23. Juli 2019

Während in Deutschland viele mit Ursula von der Leyen hadern, ist die Freude in Frankreich riesig. Die Wahl der CDU-Politikerin zur neuen Kommissionschefin ist für Emmanuel Macron ein großer Erfolg.

Von Georg Blume, Paris

Sonntag, 21.07.2019 00:22 Uhr. spiegel.de

„Es lebe Europa, vive l’Europe, long live Europe!“ – so hatte Ursula von der Leyen am Dienstag ihre Rede vor dem Europaparlament in Straßburg beendet. Das Werben war erfolgreich. Die Abgeordneten wählten die CDU-Politikerin zur neuen Präsidentin der EU-Kommission. Hinterher warfen deutsche Kritiker von der Leyen jedoch zu viel Pathos in ihren Worten vor. In Frankreich wiederum ist man so etwas längst gewöhnt. Präsident Emmanuel Macron schließt fast jede seiner Rede mit einem „Vive la République!“ Kein Wunder, dass ihm von der Leyens Auftritt gut gefiel.

Die frühere Verteidigungsministerin verkörpere in einer Person „ein deutsch-französisches Paar“, heißt es aus dem Kreis von Macrons Beratern im Élysée-Palast. Der Präsident hatte sich bislang mit Reaktionen auf von der Leyens Aufritt eher zurückgehalten – ganz bewusst. Es hätte zu sehr nach Selbstbeweihräucherung ausgesehen. Schließlich hat Macron nie einen Hehl daraus gemacht, dass er es war, der von der Leyen im Kreis der europäischen Regierungschefs vorgeschlagen hatte. Doch nun sind ein paar Tage vergangen. Und inzwischen will man in Paris durchaus durchblicken lassen, wie froh man mittlerweile nach Brüssel blickt. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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France Starts a Digital Tax War

Posted by hkarner - 18. Juli 2019

Date: 17-07-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By The Editorial Board

Macron’s levy on U.S. tech giants plays into Trump’s hands.

French President Emmanuel Macron

Rule No. 1 for international economic affairs ought to be “Don’t give Donald Trump a legitimate excuse for a trade war.” French President Emmanuel Macron missed the memo, which explains why Paris is pushing a new digital tax that even the Germans don’t want for Europe.

The digital services tax approved by the National Assembly last week imposes a 3% levy on sales by global tech companies in France. If the companies have no profits, they will still pay the tax. The theory is that 80-year-old global agreements that tax profits in a company’s home country are outdated in the digital era: Tech companies are too good at exploiting loopholes that allow them to book profits arising from their intellectual property and other intangible assets somewhere other than where they earn revenue. Instead, the thinking goes, they should have to pay tax where the sales are made.

Plenty of European Union countries would love to impose a tax of this sort on U.S. tech, and the U.K., Italy and Spain are debating their own versions. But most Europeans worry about retaliation, which is why governments like Germany’s scuttled earlier proposals for an EU-wide version of the French plan. Mr. Macron seems to hope his unilateral act will spur others to move faster.

Instead he may spur a trade war. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office last week opened a Section 301 investigation to determine whether the French tax unfairly discriminates against American companies. This would pave the way for retaliatory tariffs. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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New ways of selling books clash with France’s old pricing rules

Posted by hkarner - 7. Juli 2019

Date: 04-07-2019
Source: The Economist
Can a “one book, one price” principle survive e-commerce?

A book is so much more than mere ink and paper. So insist French booksellers, who for nearly four decades have successfully lobbied to keep the forces of the free market at bay. A law passed in 1981 bans the sale of any book at anything other than the price decreed by its publisher. Authorities are cracking down on those trying to flog the latest Thomas Piketty or j.k. Rowling at a discount.

The fixed-price rule is meant to keep customers loyal to their local bookshop and out of the clutches of supermarkets and hypercapitaliste American corporations. But the advent of e-commerce and e-readers has prompted questions worthy of their own tomes. Can you fix the price of a book if it is part of an all-you-can-read subscription service? Are audiobooks books at all? And what of authors who self-publish? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Europe’s gaseous political alliances

Posted by hkarner - 23. Juni 2019

Date: 22-06-2019
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne

The old Franco-German pact has given way to shifting coalitions

“Schmidt and Giscard supported each other on every point which came up during this European Council,” scribbled Roy Jenkins in his diary in 1977. The former British home secretary had just become president of the European Commission, the eu’s executive. He was struck by the extent to which West Germany (led by by Helmut Schmidt) and France (led by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) looked out for each other. Back in those days Europe’s two central powers sorted out their differences in private, and then used their combined weight to set the agenda for the entire club.

Today things work differently. On many policy subjects, France and Germany are now openly divided. The former wants to cut short the endless Brexit negotiations; the latter is willing to prolong them. France backs the European Intervention Initiative, a European military force willing to act even when some eu states disagree; Germany is keener on Permanent Structured Co-operation, a broader but less dynamic forum for eu security co-ordination. France wants to integrate the euro zone further, to prepare it for the next crisis; Germany frets about moral hazard.

The more the eu gains members, shrinks in relative global weight and faces ever-tougher circumstances, the more it struggles to present a common front. The eu summit starting on June 20th, which will focus on allocating the union’s big jobs, will illustrate that truth. The choice of president for the next European Commission will be the main bone of contention. Angela Merkel is supporting Manfred Weber, a Bavarian candidate whom her European People’s Party (epp), the main centre-right grouping, backs. Emmanuel Macron, France’s liberal president, wants to block him and appoint instead Michel Barnier, a Frenchman and the lead Brexit negotiator, who is also in the epp, or perhaps Margrethe Vestager, the eu’s formidable Danish competition commissioner who hails from his own liberal group. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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French Protesters Hang Up Their Yellow Vests

Posted by hkarner - 17. Juni 2019

Date: 16-06-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Battered by leadership crisis and flagging support, movement that tested President Emmanuel Macron now faces uncertain future

Yellow-vest protesters marching in Paris in May. The demonstrations began in November as an act of defiance against the government’s plans to raise fuel taxes.

PARIS—For months, Yves Garrec dedicated his Saturdays to slipping on a yellow road-safety vest and hitting the streets in protest. Not any more.

“I’ve put my yellow vest back in the car glove compartment,” the 60-year-old chauffeur says.

Seven months after waves of demonstrations first washed over France—bringing the government to its knees—the yellow-vest movement has run out of steam. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why the EU Election Was a Win for Macron

Posted by hkarner - 30. Mai 2019

Although the far-right National Rally edged out La République en Marche ! in the European Parliament election, broader trends in European politics now look favorable for French President Emmanuel Macron. His party will now lead a pivotal centrist bloc, and will be able to work closely with the newly reinforced Greens on crucial reforms.

PARIS – Though the final vote tally might seem to suggest otherwise, the European Parliament elections were a strategic success for French President Emmanuel Macron. There are four reasons why this is so.

First, Macron succeeded in framing the election as a contest between progressives and populists. Though he has been assailed at home in recent months – including by some on his own “side” – it is worth remembering that this message did not emerge out of thin air. Rather, it harks back to Macron’s 2017 presidential campaign, which itself tapped into a broader political sea change taking place across Europe. In that election, he overcame the traditional right-left divide. Two years later, this was replicated in the European Parliament elections. Historically, the Republicans on the right and the Socialists on the left have dominated French politics. Yet these parties’ combined share of the popular vote was under 15%, whereas Macron’s La République en Marche ! won 22.4%, and the far-right National Rally (formerly the National Front) picked up 23.3%. Behind these figures is an unprecedented collapse of the mainstream French right, which has failed to reconcile identity politics with traditional liberalism. Though some French conservatives have migrated to the National Rally, much of the center-right electorate has gravitated toward Macron’s party, owing to efforts by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe (formerly of the Republicans).Moreover, most of those who switched to La République en Marche ! are pensioners who did so despite being hit hard by Macron’s tax reforms (some of which have been reversed). This suggests that Macron’s progressive-versus-populist narrative helped to re-mobilize France’s – and perhaps Europe’s – pro-European electorate. While the National Rally performed well and Italy’s right-wing League party made gains, they failed to trigger the EU-wide political earthquake that many had come to expect.The second reason the election represents a victory for Macron is that his party will now be able to claim leadership over a pivotal centrist parliamentary group of 110 members. The relative losses suffered by the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), combined with the surge in support for the Greens, means that the European Parliament is entering a period of quadripartite governance. Provided these groups are able to compromise, the new arrangement will probably be an improvement on the old one, wherein the EPP and S&D divvied up all of the jobs. For the first time in the European Parliament’s history, the number of MEPs affiliated with the two main parties represents only 44% of the total.A more fluid parliamentary composition will allow for more ad hoc majorities to emerge in support of various policy proposals, given that there is so much common ground between La République en Marche !, the S&D, and the Greens. And, as an added bonus, the end of the EPP/S&D duopoly also marks the end of German hegemony in the Parliament.

Third, the Spitzenkandidaten process – whereby the largest party grouping selects the president of the European Commission – is likely to collapse, and this may also work to Macron’s advantage. The system is a first-past-the-post mechanism in a proportionally elected Parliament, and has more to do with partisanship than with democracy, because it gives automatic power to the largest group.

But while the EPP won the most parliamentary seats, its Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber, is very controversial. Just before the election, he was weakened by the political demise of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose government was by the release of a video in which his vice chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party, appears to offer a quid pro quo for electoral help from Russia. But Merkel still defends Weber, and, apart from Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, most EU leaders are reluctant to confront the European Parliament on the Spitzenkandidaten issue. That may shorten the odds for Margrethe Vestager – who is not from the EPP, but who is, in a sense, a liberal Spitzenkandidat – while while lengthening them for Michel Barnier, who is from the EPP but is not a Spitzenkandidat. If the Council succeeds in ruling out Weber and his populist supporters, Macron will claim it as a success.Finally, the election provides a check on German hegemony within the EU more broadly. Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been weakened, and the country’s Greens have grown stronger. For his part, Macron will find the Greens much easier to work with on eurozone reform, especially if they end up joining a new German coalition government.Taken together, these post-election considerations paint a rather positive picture for Macron. The question now is whether he can use his strength at the EU level to shore up his domestic position. This will not happen automatically. With the fall of the French right, there may be a temptation to position La République en Marche ! as a new home for right-wing French voters. But while this might capture Paris’s bourgeois 16th arrondissement, doing so would be a mistake. Instead, Macron should focus on securing more of the atomized left, particularly those who have moved to the National Rally.As matters stand, La République en Marche !’s base remains limited to the “winners” of globalization. Rural, alienated, and economically vulnerable voters remain in the National Rally’s camp. To win them over, Macron must reduce the polarization between the two parties.

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The Church of Resentment

Posted by hkarner - 20. April 2019

Date: 19-04-2019
 Source: The Wall Street Journal By The Editorial Board

Some people hate the rich more than they love Paris’s cathedral.

Well, so much for unity amid disaster. Monday’s catastrophic fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was barely out before a chorus of complaint began about the superrich families and large corporations that rushed to donate to the rebuilding effort.

Those extraordinary pledges now total about €850 million. Within 24 hours two of France’s richest men had promised a combined €300 million, and petro giant Total committed €100 million. Hundreds of millions of euros have poured in from L’Oreal , Apple , Disney and an array of companies, foundations and wealthy individuals.

Yet some French politicians are unhappy about this. Ingrid Levavasseur, a leader of the yellow-vest protest movement, complained about “the inertia of large companies in the face of social misery when they prove that in one night they can mobilize a crazy amount of money for Notre Dame.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Neue Spitze für EZB und EU-Kommission – wer wie im Kurs steht

Posted by hkarner - 15. April 2019

Andreas Schnauder aus Washington, 14. April 2019, 17:36 derstandard.at

Erstmals wird ein Deutscher für die Spitze der Europäischen Zentralbank gehandelt. In dem Fall würde ein Franzose die EU-Kommission anführen.

Am Drehbuch für die Besetzung der neuen Topjobs in der EU wird derzeit eifrig geschrieben. Finalisiert werden kann es erst nach den Wahlen zum Europaparlament Ende Mai, doch erste Entwürfe versprechen einige Dramatik. In der Rolle des tragischen Helden: Manfred Weber. Der deutsche CSU-Mann und Spitzenkandidat der Europäischen Volkspartei werde – so erzählen es derzeit ausgewiesene EU-Kenner – auch im Falle eines Wahlsiegs nicht die Nachfolge von Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker antreten. Der Grund: Kanzlerin Angela Merkel sähe lieber erstmals einen Deutschen an der Spitze der Europäischen Zentralbank. Gut in dieses Bild passen in Paris gestreute Gerüchte, wonach Präsident Emmanuel Macron einen Franzosen an die Kommissionsspitze hieven wolle. Ein deutscher EZB-Präsident, ein Franzose an der Spitze der EU-Behörde – das klingt nach einer massiven Stärkung der Achse Berlin-Paris, die zuletzt recht brüchig gewirkt hatte.

Der logische Anwärter, EZB-Direktoriumsmitglied Jens Weidmann, verliert im Rennen um die Spitze der Europäischen Zentralbank Plätze… Die Autoren der Drehbücher haben auch schon ein paar Namen für die wichtigen Rollen parat. Der logische französische Kandidat hieße Michel Barnier, der sich als Brexit-Verhandler – wieder einmal – einen Namen gemacht hat und die EU als früherer Kommissar bestens kennt. Er scheint aber Konkurrenz zu erhalten. Mit der Chefin des Internationalen Währungsfonds, Christine Lagarde, soll sich derzeit eine international renommierte Spitzenkandidatin in Stellung bringen. Die frühere französische Wirtschafts- und Finanzministerin und Rechtsanwältin hielt sich in letzter Zeit auffällig oft in Europa auf und intensivierte Kontakte zu diversen Strippenziehern, heißt es aus ihrem Umfeld am Rande der IWF-Frühjahrstagung in Washington.  …während der Euroretter Klaus Regling Auftrieb hat. Das Skript ist auch bei den personellen Vorlieben Deutschlands unvollständig. Bundesbank-Präsident Jens Weidmann wäre der eigentlich erwartbare Nachfolger von Mario Draghi an der EZB-Spitze. Doch der Ökonom könnte sich mit seinem Widerstand gegen eine allzu lockere Geldpolitik um den Topjob gebracht haben, wird gemunkelt. Vor allem in Südeuropa sei Weidmann schwer durchzubringen. Selbst in Berlin soll es sich der frühere Merkel-Berater mit Kritik an Staatsanleihenkäufen durch die Euro-Zentralbanken verscherzt haben. Es sieht nicht allzu gut aus für Weidmann.

Aus dem Rettungsschirm

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France’s Golden Boy Learns How to Fight

Posted by hkarner - 1. April 2019

Date: 31-03-2019

Macron Debates His Way Out of The Yellow-Vest Crisis

When faced with the anger of the yellow-vests movement, French President Emmanuel Macron was almost taken down by his own hubris.
Now he has emerged from the crisis with a new fighting spirit, marking a turning point for him — and for the country.

It feels like he’s always being hounded by this face, its smooth features, the straight nose, the pronounced jawbone. „You’re posing everywhere as if you were a model for a mail-order catalogue,“ writes François Ruffin.

Ruffin hates the French president with a passion, and he makes no effort to conceal it.

He describes his loathing for the French president as something „physical“ — a deeply visceral reaction. And he’s by far not the only one. According to Ruffin, this hate „has become a political fact.“ Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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