Emmanuel Macron, who was installed in August as the youngest cabinet minister in memory by French president Francois Hollande, and German minister Sigmar Gabriel, are in charge of very different but troubled economies. France's is foundering, with high unemployment and no GDP growth, while Germany's strong and sustained growth, while admirable, won't last forever. France, like other European countries, needs the type of economic changes that have aided Germany, while its counterpart requires investment from the European Commission to keep demand at high levels.
At the summit, Macron and Gabriel released a report outlining a "New Deal" policy that would allow for both countries to grow concurrently. The report said that France, in particular, would need to overhaul its labor laws and economic system in much the same way as Germany did in the mid-2000s. The report called for "flexicurity", a practice of regulating labor practices within companies rather than top-down from the government, which has worked in Germany, as well as the more controversial recommendation that French businesses be able to preventatively alter their workforces prior to a serious downturn, instead of waiting until disaster forces layoffs.
Despite the inevitable blowback from the Socialist-leaning nation, France needs these types of reforms. And according to Christophe Mazurier, a French financier who has spent his career in the European financial sector, Macron is just the man to implement them.
Macron is a member of the Socialist party and is acting under a Socialist regime, but Mazurier notes his ideology there is more social than fiscal. A veteran of the financial sector -- he held a high-level position at Paris bank Rothschild -- Macron speaks the language of business and, more importantly, knows what types of regulation will help businesses be most successful. He is not tethered to the Socialist ideal of the welfare state or the protective nature of labor unions and the French government, and can therefore make decisions outside of the traditional Socialist obligation.
Macron has the added advantage of youth, which Mazurier says is a key to his potential success. At 36, he is old enough to fully understand France's current dire economic position, but young enough to avoid the trench mentality of so many of his Socialist peers. Rather than living through the spring of 1968, Macron can file that revolutionary period. France lives in a different, globalized economic sphere than it did then, and it must make difficult choices to retain its place at the table of the world's economic elite.
If these changes are indeed implemented in France, Macron will undoubtedly be the subject of protests, walk-outs and effigy. But Mazurier notes that this is inherent to the job description of economy minister, especially under the divisive Hollande, and that these fears should not deter Macron. And they shouldn't, especially considering Macron has long been the quiet force behind Hollande's most progressive legislation since his election in 2012.
If France is to rise once again as an economic leader, it will need thick-skinned leaders willing to break from the status quo; for Mazurier, Macron represents exactly the remedy the Hexagonal needs.