French press review 16 October 2014

A survey finds many unemployed have given up looking for work. The right is up in arms over defence cuts. Sarkozy's overspending election campaign continues to excite interest. And three billion of the world's people do not have enough to eat.


Le Figaro reports that the world is losing the fight against Ebola, suggesting that there could be as many as 10,000 new cases of the disease every week by the end of this year.

France has decided to instigate health screening at its international airports for passengerrs arriving from affected areas. There is to be a meeting of European health ministers to discuss the crisis later today.

The conservative daily reports that as many as 50 per cent of those claiming unemployment benefit in some areas are not making any effort to get a job. Early last month French Labour Minister François Rebsamen caused a storm by suggesting that it might be a good idea to tighten controls on those claiming the dole.

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Now a report by agents of his own employment wing suggest that the minister may have been barking up the right tree. Fifty per cent of those unemployed in the eastern region of Franche-Comté were discovered to be resting on their laurels, with 38 per cent in the western Poitou-Charentes not making any effort to get back to work.

Le Figaro admits that not all those "caught" in this survey were out-and-out cheats. But 35 per cent of those in Franche-Comté were considered serious enough to have the individuals involved taken off the benefit register for two weeks. So there is a problem.

The crucial question, says Le Figaro, is what the authorities are going to do about it. The conservative paper notes with satisfaction that the director of the national employment agency has had the courage to suggest that a new, and controversial, system of progressive sanctions might have a positive effect on unemployment figures. And that would, incidentally, help to reduce the social security deficit.

Le Figaro also pounds a well-worn conservative theme, claiming that the army has been specifically targeted in the latest round of budget cuts.That's what they're saying in just about every French ministry at the moment but the army's loss of 7,500 posts, the decommissioning of five naval vessels, and the closure of the Paris military hospital Val de Grace, are striking symbols.

Despite current obligations in Mali, the Central African Republic and Syria/Iraq, says Le Figaro's editorial, the army is suffering 60 per cent of all job losses in the public sector, despite accounting for only 10 per cent of state employees.

Dossier: War in Mali

The main story on the website of left-leaning Libération offers to explain how Nicolas Sarkozy's losing presidential campaign in 2012 managed to have a budget of 40 million euros, despite rules which limit the spending by any candidate to just 22 million.

According to Libé, the Bygmalion affair - so called after the communications company allegedly at the centre of a massive money-laundering operation - is likely to turn into one of the biggest political-financial scandals of recent years. And that can hardly be good news for Sarkozy, who is currently trying to organise a political comeback.

Catholic La Croix gives pride of place to World Food Day, marked today on a planet where as many as three billion people do not have enough to eat all the time.

These are people who have no choice as to the amount, the quality or the variety of what they eat. They take what they can, when they can, but are the first victims of supply crises and price increases.

According to La Croix, 90 per cent of French people questioned are ready to help fight world hunger by, for example, wasting less. Three quarters of the same sample would be happy to buy food produced locally, thus reducing the amount of land devoted by developing countries to the mass production of out-of-season specialities for the Western market. But, says the Catholic paper, there's a long way to go to transform those statistics into changed behaviour.

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