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French press review 10 July 2018

What did French President Emmanuel Macron have to say yesterday in Versailles? How careless do you have to be to lose two ministers? Who will win tonight's World Cup derby between France and Belgium? And who wants to be a member of the European Parliament?


The French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday addressed the nation's senators and MPs.

This morning's French papers go to town on the fallout.

Le Monde says that the opposition has condemned the presidential performance as "a stream of small talk", further proof that "this president will change nothing". Socialist Senator Patrick Kanner said the French leader was like the pilot of a plane in which all seats are reserved for business class. He is still the "president of the rich".

Macron is a convinced market liberal, according to the head of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure. "Those who wait to see him shift towards the left will wait in vain."

The Communist senator Pierre Laurent saw the whole performance as an exercise in "monarchy".

The president didn't score much higher on the right-wing benches.

Marine Le Pen of the National Rally says Macron is planning a complete takeover of the reins of power, suggesting that he will soon abolish the position of prime minister. Needless to remark, no such proposition was made in yesterday's presidential speech.

In slightly more balanced terms, the mainstream conservative MP Christian Jacob warned that the head of state was using parliament as a footstool with a view to increasing his own power.

Theresa May loses two ministers. Very careless

Right-wing Le Figaro looks at the predicament of British prime minister Theresa May, who has lost the support of two ministers in as many days because of what the defectors see as her weak-kneed approach to the Brexit negotiations.

First to go was David Davis, the minister supposed to be responsible for getting Britain out in one piece. He said he could no longer support a policy which was giving too much to Europe and would lead to nothing but the illusion of national sovereignty.

Yesterday it was the turn of Trump look-alike Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, to jump ship. Earlier this week Johnson described the task of defending May's Brexit proposals as "polishing a turd".

Now that he's stopped pretending to do that, he has to start polishing his own image with a view to taking over from Theresa May.

Brothers in arms play football

Left-leaning Libération gives the front-page honours to today's World Cup semi-final in which France will take on neighbouring Belgium.

The headline reads "Half-brothers," an ironic reference to the fact that the two nations cordially detest one another and that many of the individual players in the two squads are either teammates or rivals in the English Premier League. None of that will count, says Libé, in this multi-cultural, post-border, pre-Brexit World Cup. It's a funny old game.

How European MPs make ends meet

The non-governmental watchdog organisation Transparency International has discovered that 31 percent of the representatives we elect to the European Parliament have other sources of income than their parliamentary pittance.

It can be argued that there's nothing inherently wrong with making a little bit on the side but, as Le Monde points out, some of the Eurodeputies' second jobs do raise the spectre of a conflict of interest.

And it's not as if they badly need the money. An ordinary member of the European Parliament is paid 8,484 euros per month. With the various travel and accommodation allowances, that brings the monthly take to somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 euros.

Dozens of our European stalwarts earn twice as much again from their parallel jobs in the private sector. The current champion is an Italian, Renato Soru, a social democrat who has earned over one-and-half billion euros in the past four years as director of the internet company Tiscali.

Renato's conservative Lithuanian colleague on the European benches, Antanas Guoga, is in second place with 1.35 million euros made playing poker. And they're followed by the French lawyer Rachida Dati with three-quarters of a million euros from her legal practice and Britain's anti-European Nigel Farage who gets over half a million for his television broadcasts. Yoy can fool some of the people some of the time.

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