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French press review 1 July 2014

The French dailies are all about the Brazil World Cup and former president Nicolas Sarkozy in police custody.


Francis Fukayama, the American political scientist, once famously announced "the end of history". I'm happy to report that he was exaggerating. Better, according to the main headline in today's sports daily, L'Equipe, "History is starting all over again." Of course, they're exaggerating too.

L'Equipe, like all the other papers, is excited about the French defeat of Nigeria yesterday, at the World Cup, an exploit which earns the national football team a quarter-final match in which they will meet the Germans.

Click here for our coverage of Brazil World Cup 2014

Whatever about "ending," let's hope history doesn't repeat itself, since the last two meetings between the French and German football teams in World Cup quarter-finals, in 1982 and '86, ended in French defeat.

That match will be decided in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. Whatever happens, each of the 33 members of the French squad, players and coaches combined, is assured a bonus of 93,000 euros for their performance so far.

The big local news this morning is that former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy is in police custody in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris. The arrest of a former president is always worth a barrel of blather, but it's not much of a surprise, since the lads in blue at Nanterre yesterday rounded up Sarko's lawyer and a couple of top-rank judges as part of their investigation into alleged abuses of power and various suspected leaks from supposedly confidential investigations. We've known for a long time that Sarkozy would be called in for questioning.

It's an enormously complicated case, involving Libyan dictators (defunct), French billionaire cosmetic heiresses (gaga), and mobile phones (tapped), but there are suspicions, basically, that a number of police and judicial sources may have combined to keep the former president informed of the status of various investigations in which he might be concerned.

His supporters say its all politically motivated to make sure the man never returns to the political scene.

There'll be nothing else on tomorrow's French front pages, so we'll spare you for now.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Communist L'Humanité sinks its teeth into Pierre Gattaz, the boss of the bosses union. Gattaz recently threatened to boycott next week's annual gab-fest in which the government and the so-called "social partners" (basically trade unions and bosses) sit down to review progress and look ahead. Gattaz says the current regime is issuing a new anti-economic law every two weeks, increasing the tax and legal difficulties facing employers. It can't go on, according to the man who, alleges L'Humanité, uses public money to butter his spinach.

The communist paper claims that Gattaz's company Radiall, which makes connectors for the aerospace and telecoms sectors, also makes an awful lot of money . . . a profit of 25 million euros last year alone. But by judiciously transfering much of that profit to branches outside France, Radiall last year faced a tax bill of just 202,000 euros. Worse, alleges L'Humanité, the company got more than four times its tax payment in government grants under the competitivity and employment legislation.

When Pierre Gattaz warned that the socialist government's money, under the responsability deal with employers, could very well end up in the silk-lined pockets of shareholders, he was, apparently, speaking from experience.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

The front page of Catholic La Croix welcomes Italy into the European hot-seat. Today sees the Italians take up the presidency of the European ministerial council, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowing to use his six months at the helm to "re-orient" European financial policy, away from austerity and towards increased investment. Little Mutter Merkel is less than charmed at the prospect.

Le Figaro gives pride of place to the fact that the French national debt is soaring on its way to the unprecedented level of two thousand billion euros, or 94 per cent of what the country is capable of producing.

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