The free movement of Europe’s citizens in question

By Gérard Cornilleau

The British election has reignited the debate on the free movement of EU citizens within the Community. The fact that in less than 10 years the number of people originating from Central and Eastern Europe (mainly Bulgaria and Romania) has increased tenfold in the UK, rising, according to Eurostat, from 76,000 in 2004 to 800,000 in 2013, is undeniably behind this new unease around intra-European migration.

Further fuelling this debate over permanent migration is the issue of the free movement of seconded workers who travel to take up jobs in a country other than their country of residence with no justification other than the possibility of reducing labour costs by avoiding paying social security contributions in the host country. Continue reading “The free movement of Europe’s citizens in question”

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Why not Sundays – but at what price?

By Gérard Cornilleau

With respect to opening DIY stores on Sundays, one aspect of the issue has never been raised. It nevertheless concerns the majority of customers who shop on weekdays during the day. If stores keep their doors open late or outside traditional work days, the labour costs will rise and the structural costs will fall. The rise in cost is due to the wage compensation to be paid to employees who agree to work outside normal hours. It is now clear that such compensation is necessary. The current discussions between the trade unions and the high street chains will undoubtedly lead to an increase in compensation, with wages likely to be doubled for those working Sundays. Evening work, after 9 pm, will also be compensated. Otherwise, the number of “volunteers” is likely to fall drastically. Nor does anyone really want to argue about whether such compensation is “fair”[1]. The reduced structural costs (due in particular to lengthening the duration of capital utilization) should be accompanied by a redistribution of business between neighbourhood shops and the large retailers: as it is unreasonable to expect a higher volume of sales[2], the extension of hours should strengthen the trend towards business concentration, with fewer stores open longer. Continue reading “Why not Sundays – but at what price?”

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Should spending on unemployment benefits be cut?

By Gérard Cornilleau

The Cour des comptes [Court of Auditors] has presented a report on the labour market which proposes that policy should be better “targeted”. With regard to unemployment benefits in particular, it focuses on the non-sustainability of expenditure and suggests certain cost-saving measures. Some of these are familiar and affect the rules on the entertainment industry and compensation for interim employees. We will not go into this here since the subject is well known [1]. But the Cour also proposes cutting unemployment benefits, which it says are (too) generous at the top and the bottom of the pay scale. In particular, it proposes reducing the maximum benefit level and establishing a digressive system, as some unemployed executives now receive benefits of over 6,000 euros per month. The reasoning in support of these proposals seems wrong on two counts. Continue reading “Should spending on unemployment benefits be cut?”

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France-Germany: The big demographic gap

By Gérard Cornilleau

The divergence in the demographic trajectories of Germany and France will have a major impact on social spending, labour markets, productive capacity and the sustainability of public debt in the two countries. The implications are crucial in particular for understanding Germany’s concern about its debt. These demographic differences will require the implementation of heterogeneous policies in the two countries, meaning that the days of a “one-size-fits-all” approach are over. Continue reading “France-Germany: The big demographic gap”

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Is our health system in danger? Reforming the reimbursement of care (3/4)

By Gérard Cornilleau

Health is one of the key concerns of the French. Yet it has not been a major topic of political debate, probably due to the highly technical nature of the problems involved in the financing and management of the health care system. An OFCE note presents four issues that we believe are crucial in the current context of a general economic crisis: the third issue, presented here, concerns the reimbursement of health care, in particular long-term care, and the rise in physician surcharges. Continue reading “Is our health system in danger? Reforming the reimbursement of care (3/4)”

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