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French press review 27 January 2014

Ukraine and French finances are competing for the front-page space this morning.

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Libération says the situation in Ukraine is deadlocked, with the spirit of revolt spreading from the capital, Kiev, and the demands of the opposition becoming ever more radicalised in the face of police brutality.

Catholic La Croix says there's an urgent need for dialogue, if a bloodbath is to be avoided.

Le Monde suggests that international mediation may now be the only way forward, with the Ukranian foreign minister calling for Swiss intervention (because the Swiss are traditionally neutral, and also because they currently hold the presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, is expected to meet both sides to the conflict later this week.

Which brings us to the real meat, which is money.

Le Monde says the international financial ratings agency, Moody's, has not down-graded the French debt situation but has expressed doubts about the efficiency of President Hollande's deal with the employers, under which they will take on more staff and the governmant will take back less tax.

That reticence on the part of the men at Moody's puts France under pressure, says right-wing Le Figaro. Presidential promises will have to start bearing fruit soon, says Le Figaro, or French borrowings are going to start costing more. The right-wing paper says political and social tensions, the rigidity of the labour market and the high level of taxation are the main negative factors invoked in the Moody's analysis.

Business daily Les Echos explains what the bosses will be expecting from their meeting, later today, with the prime minister, with a view to getting the ball rolling on the new, cure-all, "responsability pact". What they want is very simple: all the money being offered by the government under the tax credit scheme should be devoted to reducing the cost of labour.

But, warns Le Figaro, that won't automatically lead to more jobs, unless the complex legalities of the French employment jungle are simplified and modernised. And that's the sort of talk that gets socialist hackles rising.

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