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French press review 22 May 2014

European parliamentary elections and Alstom, with two weeks left to the deadline for a decision between American and German pretenders, dominate the front page stories of French dailies.


Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The European parliamentary elections refuse to go away.

Communist L'Humanité publishes eleven cries of anger against austerity, from artists, trade unionists, intellectuals and feminists. The message is intended to boost the energy of the anti-hardship left, against what the communist daily calls the "comfortable purring" of the out-going Strasbourg parliament, where conservatives and liberal socialists combine to sing the same sad song.

For those who oppose the 3 per cent rule (Europe's benchmark for national debt), who are terrified by the secrecy surrounding the transAtlantic trade negotiations, who want to see Europe showing more interest in social questions than monetary ones, Sunday is a chance to make a protest, even if the vote is unlikely to change the broad organisation or orientation of the trading bloc.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is not among the dissenting voices. According to the front page of conservative Le Figaro, he's all in favour of Europe, preaching the gospel of reconciliation between those who still want to continue to believe in the 28-nation union and those who have lost the faith.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

That's quite a programme, but we'll let it pass. What Sarko is very much against is Schengen, the agreements which, more-or-less, enable the free movement of people within Europe. The problem, of course, is not the Europeans, but the unfortunates who survive the sea crossing to Lampedusa and all the other dangerous ports of illegal entry.

Since some governments - he means the Italians - have failed to respect the letter of the basic deal, the whole Schengen agreement should be scrapped and replaced by something more efficient and really workable.

Le Monde looks at the sale of French engineering company, Alstom, with two weeks left to the deadline for a decision between American and German pretenders. On inside pages, Le Monde visits PK5, the muslim ghetto in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

Dossier: Cannes Film Festival 2014

The muslim population of Bangui has decreased by an estimated 90 per cent since the start of the civil war last December. The fear is that Nigeria's Boko Haram might decide to cross the jungles of northern Cameroon and give their struggling co-religionists a bit of muscle.

A situation which would pit the Nigerian insurgents against not only the local christian anti-balaka militants, but also against the French army.


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