French press review 09 October 2014

Family allowances, Islamic State and Ebola are all topics in today's French papers.


The ruling socialists are badly stuck for money, what with Brussels threathening to send them back to their calculators on the budget for next year. So, there's a possibility that family allowances might be varied in line with family income. This, according to right-wing paper Le Figaro, is another match thrown into the powderkeg of socialist family policy. And the political right don't like it, saying it runs contrary to the republican principle of equality. Family associations are shocked by what they describe as a "disastrous" proposition, which will add a layer of pressure to a government already condemned by the Catholic far right for its attitude to the traditional family.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Even left-leaning Libération is shocked by this further sign that these socialists recognise nothing as sacred. The problerm for Libé has nothing to do with equality and everything to do with a possible slowdown in the French birth rate. As if 129 euros per month was going to encourage couples to have a second child. Libération's editorial is categorical: France needs more babies so that they can pay for our retirement. Young people are less likely to be conservative, more likely to buy papers like Libération. And they create social and economic dynamism. In fact, they cost a fortune to educate, and then they move to London, but let's not worry about the details. Libé is sure that not paying everybody the same pittance for their progeny is counterproductive, if you'll excuse the repetition, but the left-wing paper does accept that social justice might not be too badly served by at least a debate on universal family allowances.

The other big front page stories are Islamic State and ebola.

Le Figaro says Turkish timidity on sending ground troops across the border to face islamist militants in Syria is starting to annoy Washington, which isn't keen to send ground troops either. The problem is that the current allied air offensive is proving worse than useless against the unholy warriors. The bombing is hurting civilians, destroying infrastructure and, crucially, alienating moderate muslim opinion which fears and detests Islamic State as much and for the same reasons as the rest of us.

Interviewed in Le Figaro, US General Michael Barbero says the current strategy is a dead end. The allies should have started with thousands of men on the ground, in order to have a source of reliable information about enemy positions and organisation. That's what the US did in Vietnam in the 1950s, and they ended up losing a twenty-year war despite committing 160,000 young Americans to the ground effort.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

La Croix reports from Guinea-Conakry, at the heart of the ebola epidemic. The catholic daily points out that, in addition to the ease of infection, there's an enormous emotional charge in the affected regions, with the fear of death leading to stigmatisation. Even health professionals are suffering that emotional strain, which can't help them to work efficiently.

On inside pages, Le Monde takes a look at how things are shaping up for the in-coming European Commission.

We know that former Luxembourg Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Junker, will be the boss, replacing jolly old José Manuel Barroso.

Yesterday, the parliamentary vetting body decided by 32 votes to 12 that former French Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, was competent to take up the job as European Economic Affairs Commissioner.

But there does appear to have been a bit of horse-trading behind the scenes to secure that decision.

Le Monde notes that Spain's Miguel Arias Cañete got the job as Energy Commissioner, despite being up to his hind legs in links to the Spanish petrol industry. This, says the centrist paper, is because the right-wing European Popular Party agreed to support Moscovici only if the socialist bloc would vote for Cañete. So Europe now has a failed Economics Minister to look after its money, and a right-wing, anti-European former oil magnate looking after energy. People wonder why voters don't take European political institutions more seriously?

Oh, and our friend Jonathan Hill, the British former City of London lobbyist who did some of his best work to block European efforts to cap financial salaries, and who failed his first oral at the European Parliament last week because he didn't know the difference between a BitCoin and a badger, got through on a second hearing. Hill is now Europe's man in charge of financial services. We're laughing!

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