Heard in Europe

Emmanuel Macron, the French economy minister, made his way to Strasbourg to introduce his much-vaunted structural reforms to French MEPs on Tuesday (28 April).

But, as in Paris, the ex-banker’s plans proved an easier pill to swallow for members of the political right than for his own Socialist Party.

His “loi Macron” is a cocktail of regulation and deregulation, whose pro-business orientation was applauded by Brussels and corporate circles alike. The French government also recently adopted a new law relaxing corporate taxes, a move heavily criticised by the left wing of the socialist party.

The exchange with the Socialist delegation heated up over breakfast when one MEP reproached him for pushing a “capitalist” agenda.

The young minister deflected the attack by telling MEPs they should move to… wait for it… Albania, of all places!

The notoriously corrupt small Balkan state became the latest addition to the EU membership queue in June. But crooked as Albania may be, it left communism behind in 1991 and is not seen as particularly anti-capitalist.

Adding insult to injury for the unruly socialist MEPs, Macron then deliberately rained on their parade by holding a press briefing at exactly at the same time as the MEPs’ monthly meeting with journalists, at 13.30. The French socialist delegation responded by postponing theirs until 14.00 but Macron had the last laugh: he did not show up until 14.10. Non mais!

 

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