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French press review 6 October 2015


Tax evasion by multinational corporations will soon be a thing of the past. Pigs will fly. The national carrier Air France may have to leave it to the pigs unless the unions, the state and some less than gruntled employees can come to terms. A Yale professor warns that we're on the verge of ecological genocide.


Le Monde's main story announces the end of tax evasion. The report comes from Lima, Peru, where the G20 group of industrialised nations will, later this very week, sign a gobal deal intended to force massive multinational companies like Apple, Google or Amazon to pay tax on their profits.

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Once the ink dries on the deal, the big badies will no longer be able to hide their profits in offshore accounts, or transfer money made in one country to operations based in another. It's the end of such practices as the wonderfully named "double Irish," which involved a dizzying circuit and astronomical profits passing through a tiny office in Dublin. From next year onwards, the rule is going to be that companies pay tax to the authorities of the country where they make the profits.

Two factors have favoured this remarkable series of agreements, the result of two years of negotiations involving 62 countries who otherwise agree on practically nothing. The first factor concentrating negotiators' minds was the global crisis. Governments had to spend a lot of money to bail out banks, car makers and insurers; they felt it was only reasonable to insist on a fair share of the profits through taxation. And then there is the huge and growing cost of social services, especially health and retirement. European governments have it up to their snotty little noses with companies that don't contribute. From next year, they're going to have to.

Conservative paper Le Figaro wonders if the national airline, Air France, is not in danger of being killed by extremist elements. It's not immediately clear who those extremists are ... you can choose between inflexible trade unions, notably those representing the pilots; the state shareholder without the courage to initiate necessary reforms; or angry employees who yesterday invaded a management meeting and tore the clothes off the backs of some of their bosses.

Le Figaro's editorial says yesterday's scenes at Air France are not calculated to improve the image of the national capacity for social dialogue.

The right-wing paper is scandalised that, once again, a bunch of trade unionists have taken the law into their own hands, assaulting the besuited bosses who had met to quietly to draw up plans to sack hundreds of employees.

Le Figaro sees the Air France situation as typical of a national refusal to accept that the world has changed, that employees can no longer expect to hold on to advantages granted in a more prosperous era.

Le Monde's editorial asks if we're heading for a new intifada, or Plaestinian uprising, in the Middle East. As far as the left-wing Israeli paper Haaretz is concerned, the question is too late: the third intifada has already begun.

Le Monde says Haaretz blames the Israeli prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahou, for his determination to continue to occupy Palestinian land while ensuring that no meaningful negotiations take place.

Deprived of even the long-term hope of a resolution of the conflict, young Palestinians take to the streets. The international partners   Europe, the US, Russia   who are supposed to be the guarantors of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, are busy elsewhere. They have been warned.

On Le Monde's opinion pages, the American historian Timothy Snyder argues that the next genocide will be provoked by ecological concerns. In a long, complicated and not always convincing article, Snyder says the fear of not being able to produce enough food to feed their populations could encourage some governments to embark on the eradication of neighbouring ethnic groups.

Snyder hopes that technology will be able to increase the amount of food available, and stabilise the environment. If we give in to ecological panic, he warns, we endanger the future by reviving the ghosts of the past.


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