French press review 07 October 2014

Talk that the French budget will be rejected by Brussels, issues with proposed new EU commissioners and more on Nicolas Sarkozy - all in today's French papers ..

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Le Figaro says the European Commission is preparing to reject French budget proposals unless the socialist government can come up with an additional eight billion euros in savings or tax income. Paris is already on one yellow card for its failure to stick to European deficit rules, says Le Figaro. If the government can't come up with an acceptable budget for 2015, then Brussels can decide to impose sanctions.

The conservative paper interviews the junior Budget Minister. He blames the economic environment . . . low (or no) growth, low inflation . . . for France's current woes, but insists that the government's determination to get state finances sorted out remains firm. The problem is, says the junior minister, that there's nowhere left to find the extra cash or cuts demanded by Europe. Basically, if Brussels doesn't like the French budget, they can lump it.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

But there is the danger that Brussels could simply refuse the French budget.

Le Figaro says the only hope for Paris is that outgoing president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, won't want to leave office in the midst of a knife fight, and his successor at the European helm, Jean-Claude Juncker, might think it wasn't a great idea to start his reign by getting tough with a big member state.

President Hollande says there's nothing to worry about, yet. The French budget won't officially be sent to Brussels before 15 October, so any talk of rejection or re-calculation that might be demanded by Europe is premature. Which hasn't prevented President Hollande from having informal damage-limitation talks with both Barroso and Juncker.

The front page of communist L'Humanité also looks to Europe. The communist paper offers portraits of four new commissioners, suggesting that their backgrounds and business or other associations might lead to the possibility of a conflict of interest.

For example, Spain's Miguel Arias Canete is the founder of two petrol companies (his shares were recently signed over to his brother-in-law) and he now takes up the European energy portfolio. His immediate family is estimated to control one third of Spain's petroleum sector.

For L'Humanité, Jean-Claude Juncker is the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, a well-known fiscal paradise.

Perhaps on the basis that you should set a thief to catch a thief, Jonathan Hill, a former City of London lobbyist, is now in charge of Europe's financial stability. His former employer, his own public relations company Quiller, campaigned against any regulation of financial bonuses and salaries; his Conservative Party is currently preparing a 2017 referendum to get the re-United KIngdom out of Europe.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

The only good news is that Hill failed his oral at the European Parliament last Wednesday . . . he didn't know anything about the virtual currency BitCoin, and even less about high-frequency trading. When he was asked about his plans for a future European capital market, Hill said he couldn't answer until he had identified the obstacles to the circulation of capital within the EU.

He's going to have a repeat oral this week, meaning he'll have spent ten days catching up on five years of financial regulations.

Then there's Tibor Navracsics, supposed to take up the European Culture portfolio, he was  Hungarian Justice Minister in the government of Viktor Orban. Tibor has assured the parliament that he believes in human dignity, democracy and the rule of law, principles which the European Commission has, unfortunately, not always found to be practised back home in Hungary. The lads are going to try to find a different job for Tibor, where his background as a censor of opposition newspapers and radio stations might be less embarrassing than at Culture. They'll probably give him the Communications job.

Le Monde boasts a new look today, promising a more audacious and better-organised approach to the news. It's very like the old look, and the audacious organisation gives top spot to Nicolas Sarkozy and likely legal troubles over the so-called Bygmalion Affair, in which a publicity company is suspected of falsifying its accounts in order to top-up Sarkozy's campaign finances. 

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