French press review 18 January 2016


Almost every French newspaper is headlining on unemployment this morning. There's a reason for that: President François Hollande is set to unveil a new plan to fight unemployment today. There seems to be a consensus here: the plan will be insufficient and ineffective.


 Right-wing Le Figaro is especially angry at Hollande's plan to create 500,000 traning courses for unemployed people.

For the paper, the new plan will only artificially reduce the unemployment rate - just in time for the 2017 presidential elections. See, given that the French economy is growing again, most economists think unemployment will go down even if the government doesn't do anything.

"Hollande has vowed to reverse the unemployment rate" reminds the paper to its readers, wich suggest all this is a ploy to meet his campaign promises.

"This plan represents everything that's wrong with France" says an editorial "It consists in spending massive amounts of public funds in a Kafkaian system, when we already know the results will be mediocre".

Le Monde has an article on what France hasn't tried yet to fight unemployment...

The centre left newspaper has mostly interviewed liberal economists, but the answers are interesting. One thing France should do is to lower the cost of work, it writes - it's one of the highest in the European Union.

Another one would be to make the unemployment benefit system less complicated, and tougher - meaning that people without a job would see their benefits cut if they refuse a new one.

Final advice from Le Monde to Hollande: make sure that big companies or corporations are not stopping new companies from growing.

"France has a lot of start-ups" says Le Monde, but often, they're blocked by actors who were there before. One example: taxis protesting against Uber.

Left-wing Libération also has its own take on this issue...

The newspaper chose to interview Baptiste Mylondo, a economist in favor of the creation of a universal basic income for all.

"I'm in favor of a universal income [...], paid throughout your entire life. It must be enough to escape poverty, exploitation and exclusion. About 1 000 euros per month for adults and 250-300 euros for minors" he says.

And this is an interesting thought: Finland was reported to be experimenting its implementation soon. But what needs to change, according to Mylondo, is how much space work has taken in our societies.

"Being employed is overrated even though it's just one of the numerous way to work" he says.

Translation: working for an NGO for free or babysitting your sister's kids should be considered as work"because they're socially useful".

And finally Communist daily L'Humanité is also headlining on unemployment.

There's also a funny cartoon on the last page of the paper.

It's about the government's controversial proposal to strip dual nationals of their nationality if they are convicted of terrorism.

In the cartoon, there's Prime Minister Minister Manuel Valls who looks like he's gone mad. There's a sign saying, "Valls stubbornly defends nationality stripping".

Behind Valls, a doctor who says "He's having an episode of rationality stripping".

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