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French press review 7 August 2014

Illegal immigration, the former French President and jobs - or lack thereof - are making headlines in France.


Leading daily Le Monde has the story that has been causing distress in the media: asylum-seekers.

Tensions are high this week, as brawls between Eritreans and Sudanese erupted in the suburbs of the Northern city of Calais.

According to Le Monde's report, scuffles in line for the soup kitchen quickly escalate into stone-throwing between hundreds of famished foreigners.

Most of the migrants are passing through Calais on their way to the UK.

Hiding away on a truck is the cheapest way to cross the Channel, but this is where the root of current tensions comes from. Sudanese migrants have a monopoly over the parking lot where lorries are stationed at night, and they beat up Eritreans who try to access it.

The daily's analysis is clear: the real issue is the rise in recent immigration numbers. The number of undocumented foreigners arrested in Calais has more than doubled since last year. The paper links this directly to Libya's freefall since the end of Muammar Gaddafi's regime some three years ago. Libya was always a bufferzone between Europe and the rest of Africa. And with borders now effectively open, it's become an easy launchpad for emigration.

French media seem very concerned about this issue, but here's a little reality check: we're talking around 8,000 people crossing into France through Italy. They could all be seated in a small football stadium.

And this summer, rumours keep popping up about former President Nicolas Sarkozy's return on the political scene.

Nothing is confirmed yet but Le Figaro's editorial thinks it's a given that Sarkozy will unite the right and easily oust the impopular Socialist government. The conservative paper rattles off all the things he'll have to change: crack down on illegal immigration, revise the social security scheme, the retirement age, and France's labor laws. The paper quotes the saying, "no pain, no gain."

It's funny to see a leading French daily quote from Jane Fonda from her work out videos, but for Le Figaro, Sarkozy is no laughing matter. One leading conservative told the paper: "if he comes back, there will be no room for mistakes."

Libération brings us four pages on another bastion of French life - France's regulated professions, which range from pharmacists to clerks.

The regulation on these jobs survived the French Revolution and even Nicolas Sarkozy, says the paper. But will it survive President François Hollande? A governmental report is making the papers buzz - it draws up a long list of jobs that are profitable not because of any inherent value, but rather because of the laws currently in place.

Left-leaning Libé says lobbies pounced on the government to block reforms. Now it's up to Hollande to see if he will indeed make France a fairer place.

And La Croix says just because no guns are firing in Gaza does not mean there is peace. This war only has two losers, and no winners. And the ceasefire the paper fears is only a temporary respite from violence. Until Hamas and Israel's leaders both stop making impossible demands, there is not much Egyptian diplomats can do to negotiate a peace.

The Catholic daily also brings us the story of the ugliest building in town: the Tour Montparnasse, second tallest tower in Paris after the Eiffel. The saying goes it's good to be in the tower, because that's the only place you can't see it. But it might not be so good after all because it's built with asbestos. Owners of the tower have been renovating it for the past decade, causing a very long headache for the 8,000 or so workers there.


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