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French press review 23 July 2015

Should French farmers be satisfied with the 600 million euros in emergency aid offered yesterday by the government? "No" would seem to be the unanimous verdict in this morning's Paris dailies. Nicolas Sarkozy gets a ticking off in Le Monde and the Alpine eternal snows are turning out to be less than that.


Angry French farmers once again plough up the Paris front pages.

Le Monde laments the fact that the emergency aid plan announced by the government is no more than a patch, a short-term solution that solves nothing fundamental. The centrist paper says nothing less than a revolutionary change will save the French meat-production sector.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

The central problem, according to Le Monde, is that posed by German competition, which is dominated by huge production factories in which animals are mistreated and labour costs are kept artificially low through the use of imported workers. Since France can't hope to compete in terms of price, local producers should emphasise the quality of French meat and use that as a selling point.

Communist L'Humanité says even the emergency measures are insufficient and will do nothing to stop the decline of French farming. A social disaster is in the making, warns L'Humanité, and it's the fault of insufficient regulation, free market access and the huge power of the industrial groups responsible for turning live cattle into the packets of meat we buy in our local supermarkets.

The communist daily says as many as 50,000 farms are threatened (the low estimate is 20,000) and an entire way of life is at risk, small-scale holdings in danger of being swallowed up by giant factory farms.

Catholic La Croix wonders if the French farming model can survive in the modern marketplace. The Catholic paper concludes that, in the long run, several different forms of agriculture will have to coexist in France: factory farms producing cheap meat and smaller operations surviving on their claim to quality. But that implies a fairly profound change of the farming landscape and there clearly won't be a place for all of the current producers.

Libération gives pride of place to the news that Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National is not a happy party.

According to Libé, certain members of the party's hard-line old guard may contest next December's regional elections as dissident candidates. This is bad news for a political group that has promoted its internal solidity as a mark of distinction from the divided and faction-riven mainstream parties. To say nothing of the impact of a fragmented vote.

Alexis Tsipras has done Marine Le Pen no favours, either, the paper argues. Since the Greek prime minister was prepared to risk humiliation rather than see his country thrown out of the eurozone, Le Pen's promise to take France out of the single currency seems even less credible than ever.

Libé's editorial on the troubles of the far right ends with a warning: there's no doubt Marine Le Pen is in a spot of bother but the mainstream parties are worse off, especially the Socialists. Instead of celebrating a temporary intestinal disorder for the Le Pen family, the left should be working to improve employment prospects and to reestablish lines of communication with the working class, especially on tough questions like national identity.

Le Monde's editorial is harshly critical of former president Nicolas Sarkozy for his unswerving determination to criticise the current man at the helm, François Hollande.

The political opposition is supposed to oppose the government, that's a given of the game of politics. But it begins to look childish, says Le Monde, when Sarko says Hollande didn't handle the Iranian nuclear debate correctly - forgetting the five other allies involved - or when the former president criticises the current one for a French UN proposal to get the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations moving again, a longstanding aim of French foreign policy.

Hollande has the wrong sow by the lug on Syria, on Libya, on Islamic State, on Greece, and Sarko has all the answers, apparently. For the moment though, he's keeping them to himself.

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Le Figaro is worried that there'll soon be nowhere for its well-heeled readers to go skiing.

The eternal snows of the French Alps are not living up to their name, since a temperature rise of 1.85°C over the past century has meant less snowfall and an earlier onset of the spring thaw. During the recent French heatwave, says Le Figaro, the level at which the air temperature remains below zero was almost at the summit of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak. The overall rise in temperature in the Alps since 1900 is 2.0°C higher than the global average and that already has climate scientists hot under the collar.


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