French press review 21 July 2011

The front pages of the papers are depressingly similar this morning. It's all a question of money, and how to save the struggling euro.

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Catholic La Croix asks various people how they would solve the European financial crisis.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The former head honcho at the French bosses' union, Ernest-Antoine Seillière, says Europe needs a Finance Minister, to hammer out a coherent policy and align member governments against speculative attack.

Given how unsuccessful the European Foreign Minister has been, it's hard to see how another puppet portfolio would help matters.

The Polish Finance Minister suggests that we should not confuse solidarity with charity. He says that, if Greece goes broke, everybody in Europe will suffer. But German voters, for example, say they are already suffering, and they've had enough of it. Call it solidarity or charity, it's still a bad game of marbles.

The Germans are, of course, not the only ones to be fed up to their back teeth with financial crisis and economic instability.

Austerity is the word, as governments fall over themselves in efforts to cut public spending, frequently at the cost of jobs. Worse, cut-backs have a strongly negative effect on economic growth, discouraging spending and investment, obliging central government to allocate more to social security and company support.

Now Europe's leaders are examining the possibility of hammering the banks, to use their massive profits to save collapsing countries. Not surprisingly, the planet's stock exchanges are in free-fall.

There are, of course, other things going on in the world.

12 million people are facing a food crisis in Somalia and northern Kenya. Unlike our financial crisis, their problem is going to kill people, and sooner rather than later, as that lumbering beast, the international community, drags its hairy paws on the vital issue of aid.

Somalia's starving children have very little chance of being heard over the bleating of Europe's angry taxpayers.

Le Monde suggests that David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, could be one of the victims of the New of the World phone-tapping scandal.

Opponents of the Tory leadership want Cameron to explain whether he helped pave the way for Rupert Murdoch to buy back the satellite TV operation, BSkyB, without reference to the competition authority and in direct contradiction of the recommendations of the media regulator.

Murdoch later dropped his bid, as the phone-hacking scandal heated up.

Among the placards carried by protestors in London this week, there were calls to "Clean up the Press" and to "Clean up Parliament". But there were also quite a few featuring photos of Cameron and the simple message "He's got to go".

Ironically, that's the sort of phrase that would have made a perfect News of the World headline, before said newspaper was closed down at the start of a scandal that has already rocked the newspaper industry, the highest ranks of the police, and is now casting a shadow over the prime minister's residence at Number 10, Downing Street.

Right-wing Le Figaro warns the Socialist Party that the autumn primary election is turning into a two-edged sword: there are going to be public debates between the various candidates, occasions which will either bore the electorate stiff or degenerate into divisive squabbles.

In either case, chortle the chaps at the government-friendly daily, it's not a formula guaranteed to seduce too many voters. Nor is it likely to help the party to heal its divisions.

Popular tabloid Le Parisien gives pride of place to the debate on the logic of having strikes, particularly in the transport sector, during the summer holidays.

This coming weekend is the crisis of the French holiday season, with millions of out-going holiday makers meeting their returning compatriots at the nation's airports. And, just to add to the chaos, the staff of Air France have chosen this very weekend to call a strike.

Now, some people in the ruling UMP party want to change the law to make strikes illegal at such sensitive times.

The trade unions are already up in arms, clamouring against a proposition which would contradict a basic constitutional right. They'll probably call a strike. As soon as they get back from their holidays!

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