Emmanuel Macron is facing some serious problems, and they don’t all involve yellow vests. The past decade has been the worst for France’s economy in at least 60 years. Annual gross domestic product growth has exceeded 1.2 percent only three times since 2007. Unemployment in the wake of the 2008 global recession and European debt crisis didn’t peak until 2015, and it had fallen only to 8.9 percent by October 2018, giving France the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the European Union. (Youth unemployment was much higher at 21.5 percent.) But the biggest problem of all – one that’s been clear since 1990 and worsened since 2008 – is that France is falling behind Germany, its closest partner in the European project. The French president’s greatest challenge, and much of the motivation behind his drive for reforms at both the domestic and European level, is closing this gap.
Macron, who served as economy minister from 2014 to 2016, ran in the 2017 pr