Emmanuel Macron embarks on a three-day tour of central and eastern Europe today, holding talks with his Austrian, Czech and Slovak counterparts in Salzburg.
Officially, the French president will lobby for tighter rules around “posted workers”—workers from low-wage EU member states sent to high-wage countries by their employers.
The issue is a sensitive one; Brexiteers leant heavily on the idea that cheap labour from elsewhere in the Union was taking up local jobs. French labour unions (with whom Macron must soon contend) have also decried the practice.
In a nod to these concerns, Macron insists that a European Commission proposal to implement a two-year limit on posted workers’ contracts and force firms to offer higher wages does not go far enough.
The absence of Poland and Hungary from Macron’s central European itinerary is the elephant in the room. Both find themselves at odds with Brussels (and Paris) over illiberal policies and both hold veto power in the European Commission. Mr Macron ignores these two powerful European actors at his own peril.
Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.