Mazurier implores French Parliament to pass ‘Macron Law’
In the final week of January, French ministers began their debate of the package of economic reforms known as the Macron Law, named after their author and champion, economy minister Emmanuel Macron.
The reforms, which Macron first introduced to President Francois Hollande’s cabinet in early December, include increasing Sunday working hours for certain stores, lifting monopolies on national bus routes, opening professions like lawyers and notaries to greater competition, and privatizing certain national airports. Macron wanted to be even more sweeping, initially stumping for an end to the 35-hour work week and getting rid of penalties for business owners who laid off employees in non-emergency situations. However, those were quickly shot down and served only to inflame leftist members of his own party.
Despite the already watered-down nature of the proposed reforms from their original state, many in the Socialist-dominated legislature still oppose it. They, and major demonstrations carried out around France, threaten to further de-fang it. According to an article in RFI, the far-left Socialist contingent considers the reform bill “not votable in its current form.”
Christophe Mazurier, a European financier who has followed his native country’s economic spiral closely, has been adamant about the value of these reforms in pulling France out its mire and back into its rightful place at the European economic table. Mazurier likes Macron, the 37-year-old “Mozart of finance” whom Hollande tabbed in August to replace the outgoing minister Arnaud Montebourg. Mazurier believes Macron, with his youth, flexibility, business sense, and progressive economic thought, has just the set of characteristics to jog France out of its economic stasis.
But Mazurier and other European economic watchdogs acknowledge that Macron will accomplish little if his aggressive reforms are neutered by parliament and, even if passed, arrive limp and ineffective. The French economy cannot afford to continue in its current malaise, with unemployment continuing to stagnate at historic levels and GDP growth holding steady at an abysmal 1% per year as the Hexagonal hemorrhages industry. And now, with France under growing pressure from Brussels and the European Commission to grow GDP and reduce its budget deficit, the new minister’s reforms are more vital than ever.
Thus Mazurier is imploring the French legislature to break free of the Socialist shackles that have allowed the economy to sink to such concerning levels. And for all their qualms with Macron, who entered the fray already a bogeyman considering his history in finance and previous career with Paris bank Rothschild & Cie, Mazurier considers him one of the few French leaders capable of generating any meaningful change.
In six short months, Macron has proven an aggressive and unconventional minister. Even if his initial rhetoric was a few octaves off, his disdain for labor and protected industries indicated he was content to be a iconoclast even within his own party. His official package of reforms took that rhetoric a step further and now, in 2015, he continues to pressure the French government to a moment of reckoning. In December, he attended Le Web conference in Paris and gave a speech in which he promised to empower young entrepreneurs and invigorate the burgeoning French start-up marketplace. In January, he doubled down on that pledge and became the first French economy minister to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where France was heavily represented.
Now, Mazurier says, the onus is on parliament to come to terms with the French recession and realize that these reforms are the first of many steps necessary to return the country from the brink of economic collapse. Macron may be the man to help France, but he can’t do it alone.