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French press review 18 August 2015


The migrant crisis continues to make the headlines of the French press today. Catholic paper La Croix cries "Emergency", conservative Le Figaro chimes "Hopelessness", while left-wing Libération sighs "dead end".


"Europe is overwhelmed by the worst crisis since World War II," writes Conservative Le Figaro. And the country receiving the flak is Greece.

As if Athens' financial woes weren't bad enough, the country is now facing an influx of migrants, largely in the Greek island of Kos.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Catholic La Croix writes the "situation is absolutely shameful". The words come from Vincent Cochetel, Europe's High Commissioner for Refugees. He says migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan continue to wash up on Europe's shores at a rhythm of 800 to 1,000 per day.

Le Figaro's editorial asks this question: "What is Europe actually doing ?"

Not much, it seems, to stop the flow of refugees risking their lives in search of a better life.

This despite the budget for the European Union border police being tripled, and an awkward European quota system for refugees being implemented.

Unsurprisingly, the conservative paper is very critical of President François Hollande for failing to honour his promise of launching a "plan of action". Instead, the person leading the way is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it says.

She's called on EU member states to harmonise their asylum laws, to avoid seekers ending up in a ping-pong lottery.

Left-wing Libération offers an interesting analysis of the migrant crisis. In its editorial inspired by Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables, it offers the same damning portrait about the corruption of human nature, saying that in times of human suffering there are always individuals waiting to swoo like vultures.

These vultures are the smugglers who take advantage of migrants' misery to line their pockets. And some of their pockets are very ^deep, Libé writes. It interviewed smugglers who can earn 6,000-10,000 euros for smuggling a migrant from Calais to England.

Others charge 500 euros for providing protection so migrants can sleep safely in parking spaces at night. Some traffickers accept to transport migrants free of charge, taking them in groups of four or five aboard lorries. This practise recently brought the Channel tunnel to a standstill.

In Communist paper l'Humanité, we're back to the theme of the corruption of human nature; this time it's embodied by France's two big pork buyers : Bigard and Cooperl.

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Yes, we're talking about the ongoing pork crisis. If you've missed it, it's essentially a fight about money. If money is the root of evil, Huma argues that Bigard and Cooperl are very evil for refusing to pay pork farmers the fixed price of 1.40 euros, agreed last month with the government.

The paper reminds readers that the two buyers previously paid this amount without it ever ruining their profits.

The story also gets coverage in Le Monde, following yesterday's crisis meeting between pork farmers and Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll. The paper says Le Foll has claimed a mini-victory after getting the Breton pig market to reopen today.

Both Bigard and Cooperl have said however they will not be attending, maintaining French pork is too expensive. The mini-victory thus looks like it will be short-lived.

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