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French press review 29 July 2011

The catastrophic French unemployment figures and the first anniversary of President Nicolas Sakozy’s security speech in Grenoble are the lead stories in most of Friday’s French papers.

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Le Monde expresses surprise at the worsening job figures, with unemployment rising 1.3 per cent in June. That represents an overall 10 per cent rise over a year and the paper underlines that the disastrous figures come at a time when the International Monetary Fund is urging France to adopt austerity measures to reign in its colossal public deficit and debt burden.

Le Echos headlines on the so-called "Cac stars", who are victim to the nervousness of the stock markets. The Cac-40 shoar index dropped 0,57 per cent to 3,712.66 points on Thursday posting its fourth consecutive slump, the markets weighed down by debt strains in the United States.

This is amid a continuing showdown in Washington between the Republican-led Congress and Democrats over raising the US debt ceiling. We are just five days away from a 2 August deadline when the US Treasury says it will run out of funds. As the clock ticks on, investors, traders, economists and other analysts are bracing for the worst. Les Echos explains that investors are disappointed by the business forecasts of several multinational companies.

Amid the continuing economic uncertainty, La Tribune warns that drought remains most problematic to the French economy. Despite the recent rains, the paper says nothing has really changed, as farmers around the country continue to report a downturn in output as a result of falling water levels.

It is one year since President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled his hardline security policy which led to a crackdown on Romas. La Croix moves to mark the anniversary and points to the more and more precarious conditions in which they live. The Catholic newspaper claims that living conditions and integration of gypsy families have worsened since Sarkozy ordered a crackdown on the community.

L’Humanité recalls Sarkozy's speech on security in Grenoble last year as more a war address by a president on the campaign trail, than anything else. The Communist Party daily notes that on 30 July 2010, Sarkozy was settling scores with young French citizens of foreign descent, stigmatising the Romas, and insulting people the so-called travelling community.

According to L’Humanité that was a clear lurch to the right with the 2012 elections in the horizon.

Le Figaro looks at the air link put in place to tackle the food emergency in the Horn of Africa. The right-wing paper reports the outbreak of heavy clashes between African peacekeepers and rebels in Mogadishu as Amison forces try to secure key sites for the airlifting of food to starving Somalis.

Le Figaro claims that severe drought has aggravated the consequences of the civil war. People in regions unaffected by the fighting have been forced to move to conflict-hit areas in search of food.

Le Figaro also comments on the just-released report on the fated Paris-Rio Air France airliner. The report questions the competence of the crew. Investigators say they found irrefutable evidence about a succession of errors made by one of the pilots, which brought down the airliner. As the plan lost altitude, the copilot reportedly wasted precious time panicking and calling the flight captain, who had left the cockpit briefly, instead of acting quickly to reactivate the sensors.
 

Libération complains about a racket involving tolls on France’s motorways. It’s the summer holiday season and France is set to witness its heaviest traffic gridlock this weekend. Libé says the toll companies are set to capitalise on the heavy flow of traffic on French roads to fill their coffers. The left-leaning paper accuses the state of allowing the motorway companies to up their fares again.

 

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