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French press review 17 April 2018

The European challenge facing French leader Emmanuel Macron, features in today's French papers. There's more debate about proposed changes to the law on asylum an immigration. Malaria is making a comeback. And how to survive on less than half a million euros per year.


Emmanuel Macron's problems are not just domestic.

Le Figaro's main story assures us that the French president's European project is also taking a bashing.

Macron is due to address the European parliament in Strasbourg today.

The French leader is expected to remind the European politicians of their responsibilities, their committments, their pride. Macron is likely to be warmly welcomed as the new face of Europe - young, energetic and modern.

But he will have to do more than smile and make comforting noises. Le Figaro reminds us that Italy, Hungary and Austria have all seen electoral surges by the forces of the far right and that there are now two competing visions of Europe, that of Macron and that embodied by the newly reelected Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

Macron, who marched into the top French job to the strains of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, the European anthem, just 11 months ago will address a parliament which represents those who are satisfied with the progress of the European experiment and those who are turning away from that project to their own local forms of extremism.

Le Figaro also points to differences between Paris and the Germany of Angela Merkel. The chancellor's conservative-social democratic coalition is firmly opposed to Macron's efforts to reform the European currency zone. The Germans are notably opposed to giving the euro the political and administrative muscle which Macron believes is essential if the continental currency is to be taken seriously.

The Financial Times in London says Macron's closest European ally is now the United Kingdom. They're being ironic, of course, since the UK is on the way out of Europe.

Macron, says Le Figaro, will arrive in Strasbourg this morning with his hands empty.

Liberty, Equality, Generosity

Libération continues the debate on what the left-leaning daily calls "the restrictive" reforms of the law on asylum and immigration, to be presented in the French parliament this week.

Libé's reports and editorial focus on the individual and community efforts which are being made across France by those who house or feed migrants, who help them with their French, with the complexities of the administration, who encourage them to train and play at the local football club.

Libération says this generous nation is unknown to far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Republican boss Laurent Wauquiez, even to Interior Minister, and promoter of the new immigration bill, Gérard Collomb. And Emmanuel Macron appears to have forgotten its existence.

The situation is not simple, the left-leaning paper admits, but it is not insoluble. The generosity of so many ordinary people suggests a better way forward than putting up ever more complicated legal barriers.

Lack of finance sees malaria make a comeback

Malaria is making a comeback!

Le Monde reports that, for the first time in a decade, the number of people contracting the disease increased in 2016. The World Health Organisation says not enough money is being invested to stop the scourge.

A child dies of malaria every two minutes, most of the victims in sub-Saharan Africa.

Progress was being made, but the effort appears to have run out of steam. In 2016, 216 million people suffered from malaria, five million more than the previous year, a return to the global level in 2012.

The WHO reckons that we need to spend five billion euros every year to win the battle against malaria. Last year the total spent amounted to barely two billion euros.

And in a different world completely . . .

Le Monde's economy pages report that the average bonus paid to financial staff working at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street last year was 150,000 euros. That's in addition to the average salary of 330,000 euros.

And the prospects for the current year are even better, suggesting bigger bonuses to come.

Companies like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, virtually wiped out by the last financial crisis, are back in full bloom.

But the glass is, sadly, half empty for the golden boys and girls. If you take inflation into account, the current average bonus falls 20 percent short of what was being paid in 2006.

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