French press review 3 February 2016


Five of the top nine companies on the American Stock Exchange are now in the realm of new technology. Islamic radicalisation is a growing trend in France. The French are increasingly enthusiastic about news but sceptical about the reliability of the media. British Prime Minister David Cameron calls Europe to order.


There are plenty of statistics on this morning's French front pages, not all of them salutary . . .

The information monster Google is now the richest company on Wall Street, with a share value of 555 billion dollars. That's the main story in Le Monde. Five of the top nine companies on the American Stock Exchange are now in the realm of new technology.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Right-wing Le Figaro reports that 8,250 people in France have become radical Islamists, saying the number of cases has doubled over the past nine months and involves growing proportions of adolescents and women.

These statistics are based on a nationwide survey of reports to the police or education authorities in cases where individuals suddenly assume their Islamic identity, become hostile to state institutions or show support for terrorist acts.

Le Figaro suggests the importance of the computer as a driver of radicalisation is probably exaggerated: 95 per cent of the cases considered are the result of direct interpersonal contact.

Paris, the Ile-de-France region that surrounds it and the south-east are the zones most affected.

And Catholic La Croix says French media are losing the battle to convince readers, listeners, viewers that the media tell something like the truth. The good news is that radio is rated by 55 per cent of those questioned as the most reliable source of information, ahead of the printed press and television, with internet bringing up the rear with a 31 per cent confidence rating.

The crucial question, of course, is how can we do better?

Journalists need to prove that they are independent of the commercial and political powers and they need to check their facts, otherwise their increasingly well-informed audience will go elsewhere.

British Prime Minister  is showing his teeth, shaking the branches and pounding his chest in a most alarming manner. This is in Le Monde.

David has warned the rest of Europe to step back into line, and look sharpish or risk being cut off from the United Kingdom.

Le Monde says that the concessions that the chest-pounder is wringing from the terrified neighbours actually undermine the very principles on which Europe is founded.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

You have to remember that Great Britain is not part of the eurozone, nor of Schengen, nor of the European Police Co-operation Area.

As part of the price for their continued if somewhat distant interest in their continental cousins, Cameron is demanding the right of individual national parliaments (ie London) to veto initiatives of the European Commission. That's not a big deal, says Le Monde, since Europe currently does very little real law-making anyway. Let them have their veto.

More seriously, Cameron wants the City of London to have a muscular role in policy-making for the eurozone, even if the UK is not actually part of the monetary union. That's a real danger, since there's at least a potential conflict of interest between London, where most of Europe's money is banked, and Strasbourg where continental financial policy is concocted. Europe must say no, says Le Monde.

And then there's the question of migrant workers - 850,000 Poles to be precise. Cameron is fed up to his highly polished back teeth with paying these chaps the difference between the legal minimum wage and a livable income. He says he'll pay wage subventions only to those who have worked for four years in the UK.

The problem is that the free circulation of people, French financial wizards, Polish plumbers and Romanian rope benders included, is a basic element in the European experiment.

Cameron cleverly senses that many leaders on the western fringe won't want their own practise in the matter of free circulation too closely examined. Belgium and Austria, for example, already operate dubious quota systems to keep students from other European countries out of their excellent universities. France would love to see an end to the detached worker system under which cheap labour from, well Poland actually, is undermining the expensive local offer in sectors like building, decorating and motor maintenance.

Europe may thus become a zone in which cartels control the circulation of goods and cash, exactly as the French left in the 1960s warned would happen. Against that sombre background, suggests Le Monde, the intestinal rumblings of the British Conservative Party are not really significant.

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