As French police battled students protesting against flexible hire and fire laws, Germany's Social Democrat labor minister stunned coalition partners by stopping a similar measure agreed upon in Germany.
French connection? Müntefering is holding off on a labor reform
One of the grand coalition's first labor market reforms -- and the one most difficult for social democrats to swallow -- was the decision to allow companies to hire and fire employees during their first two years of employment.
Among those agreeing to the reform was new labor minister, and former head of the SPD party, Franz Müntefering. But in an article in Wednesday's Handelsblatt newspaper, Müntefering announced that he was stopping the reform, accusing the conservative parties of wanting too much.
"I stopped it after parts of the Union parties began taking steps away from this point in the coalition agreement," he wrote.
Unions invoke French protests
Conservative Economics Minister Michael Glos said earlier in the week that the dismantling of Germany's strict job protection laws doesn't go far enough, echoing similar complaints in parts of the Christian Democratic Union, and Christian Social Union parties.
Unions against loosening job protection laws
The prospect has inflamed union representatives. Michael Sommer, the head of the DGB union association, said that the same things French students are yelling into their microphones during the last two weeks of protest could be said in Germany.
"What is being fought against in France, is being planned here," said Sommer, in a newspaper interview.
Sommer and union representatives argue that the two year probation period puts workers in an uncertain situation and makes it difficult for them to get a bank loan or an apartment contract. He has called for the governing coalition to further consider the job-protection laws reached in the coalition agreement.
Merkel, Union urge patience
Sommer's concerns received some support from current SPD head Hubertus Heil.
"We don't want a hire and fire society," Heil said earlier this week, responding to Glos's comments.
Merkel wants to end speculation
Conservative politicians were surprised at Müntefering's announcement. The economics expert in the CDU parliamentary faction said that the issue was still up for discussion. Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared a bit exasperated.
"Let's just first take a look at what we've agreed to do," she said in response to the speculation.
Three German clubs came out smelling like roses, while the other lost in Monaco. The midweek action had no shortage of star performers on the Champions League first matchday. DW's Ross Dunbar picks his fabulous five.
Passions are running high as Scots prepare to decide whether to remain a part of the UK. With polls too close to call ahead of the referendum, each side says it's confident undecided voters will rally to their cause.
The US Federal Reserve is in no rush to tighten its monetary policy. It has renewed a pledge to keep interest rates low while the economy solidifies its recovery.