French presidential elections, first round: A positive signal for social Europe?

A commentary by Klaus Heeger, Secretary General of CESI, in response to the first round of the French presidential elections yesterday.

Emmanuel Macron is the winner of the first round of the French Presidential elections and is expected to become France’s next President. However, assuming (and, needless to say, hoping) that Mr Macron will beat Marine Le Pen in the second round on May 7, it still needs to be established what this means for worker rights, a more social Europe and, to this end, much needed additional investment in social infrastructure and public services – something CESI has been advocating for long.

As Mr Macron is a committed European, the French (and German) elections may open momentum for a new Berlin-Paris agreement for ambitious reforms in Europe.

At their Rome Summit in March, EU leaders already committed to a more social and inclusive Europe, something that CESI welcomed warmly. It will remain to be seen to what extent and in which way Mr Macron’s understanding of reforms in Europe spans to a more social Europe and an adjusted macroeconomic and fiscal governance framework which allows Member States to make much-needed investments in human capital, accessible and affordable quality public services and the workers providing them.

As CESI’s Presidium declared in a resolution in response to the European Commission’s recent White Paper on the Future of the EU, heads of state and government and national politicians in the Member States should close ranks with trade unions all over Europe in their call to put the development of a real social dimension at the heart of a successful future EU: Social and economic fairness and equality has become the most important concern of the EU’s citizens. They will only accept a European integration project which responds to their needs. If Emmanuel Macron internalises this paradigm, he could help make Europe a better place for citizens and workers – In any case, though, this is course requires in the first place a (hopefully clear) victory against Le Pen in the election’s second round two weeks’ time.