France's Macron urges EU to curb cheap east Europe workers

May 25, 2017 17:30
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BRUSSELS - French President Emmanuel Macron urged the European Commission on Thursday to do more to curb an influx of low-paid east Europeans working on temporary assignment in France, warning that it was sapping support for the EU.

After meeting EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels for the first time since defeating anti-EU nationalist Marine Le Pen to win the presidency on May 7, Macron told reporters that he was determined to reform France to revive its economy but that the EU should also protect welfare standards.

"Alongside this France that reforms, that transforms, that overhauls we need a Europe that protects," Macron said.

EU governments are divided, broadly speaking between poor east and rich west, on amendments to rules under which, say, Bulgarian truck drivers or Lithuanian bricklayers can be posted to France for limited periods and paid an eastern European wage levels which are often below guaranteed minimums in the west.

The legislation faces a new round of decisions next month.

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