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French press review 25 June 2015

No one seems too surprised about the American spying scandal, probably on the basis that you need to keep a close eye on your allies, likely to be less predictbale than your enemies. Embarrassingly, the scandal blew up on the very day the French government finally passed its own disputed spying legislation.


There's more spying on this morning's front pages than you'd get in a barrel of James Bond novels. Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond, at least gave us pretty girls, convoluted plot lines and believable villains. The latest WikiLeaks saga has nothing but villains.

Libération's main headline reads "The waltz of the wounded", suggesting that Paris is more worried about maintaining friendly ties with Washington than with getting hot under the collar about spying allegations.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Catholic La Croix wonders just how far France should trust its so-called "allies," once again stressing that economic and military ties are what really matter. The rest is just public relations.

Right-wing Le Figaro tries to turn an unpromising squabble into a knife fight with a main headline suggesting that revelations that the last three French presidents have had their phone orders for pizza and croissants intercepted by the National Security Agency have "chilled" relations between France and the United States.

Le Figaro's editorial asks WHY it has been necessary for Washington to spy on the movers and shakers in Paris. Especially since nothing really explosive (apart from a ballistic Mutti Merkel) has emerged from the huge American effort to know everything about everybody. The conservative paper concedes that shared business and strategic interests are far more important than a diplomatic row.

But Le Figaro goes on to wonder how much trust has been damaged, especially with delicate questions like the Iranian nuclear programme, Putin's project to enlarge his back garden over much of eastern Europe and south-western Asia, to say nothing of the threat posed by the Islamic State armed group.

Barack Obama, says Le Figaro, is no better than Bush and Cheney. He just smiles more convincingly and tells better lies. France and the world have been warned.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Communist L'Humanité is incandescent with rage. "Uncle Sam spies on France and Paris takes it lying down," is the main headline to an article lamenting French cowardice. The Communist Party has called for an immediate suspension of the ongoing negotiations intended to lead to a new trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, since it is to be supposed that the American team know more about the European proposals than most of their European counterparts.

Worse, says L'Humanité, while lamenting the misdeeds of the American Big Brother, the French National Assembly yesterday put the final seal of approval to their own dangerously repressive spying laws.

Perhaps the only good thing to be said about the whole sorry affair is that it gives us a break from the Greeks!

Not that finacial miseries are ever too far away.

Le Figaro and Le Monde, with varying levels of vituperation and emphasis, both point to the fact that the French state accounting body, the Cour des comptes, is pessimistic about government promises to cut back on public spending.

The national financial watchdog thinks there is a real risk of a serious overspend and wants to see more savings and an intensification of structural reform.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

Finance Minister Michel Sapin says there's no need to get out the heavy rhetoric, he has the whole job under control. Basically, the old farts who run the coal-fired calculator at the Cour des comptes are exaggerating.

Sadly, no, M. Sapin, and Le Monde has the figures to prove it. Your government promised to reduce public spending by close to 15 per cent this year. In real terms, but spending has actually increased by two per cent.

To put that fact in perspective, Germany and Great Britain have both knocked single figures off government spending, while Spain has managed to reduce official expenditure by nearly 13 per cent.

France's performance puts it in the same league as the Greeks.

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