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French press review 28 November 2017

4 min

Why has Europe decided to allow the sale and use of a weedkiller which has been linked to cancer deaths? How many French workers are depressed by their jobs? What will President Emmanuel Macron say to students at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso later today?


The glyphosate scandal and Europe's budgetary bothers dominate the front page of Le Monde.

Glyphosate is the principal ingredient in the controversial Monsanto-manufactured weed killer RoundUp, which has been linked to an increased incidence of cancer. Scientists and activists have been calling for a complete ban on its use.

Despite all the medical evidence and growing public concern, the European Union yesterday voted in favour of a five-year extension to the authorisation of the sale of the chemical.

Bizarrely, the European Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, welcomed the decision as a triumph for collective decision-making.

France, Italy and Greece voted against the extension. Germany, despite a government decision to abstain, voted in favour of giving Monsanto five more years.

French farmers say they will be at a disadvantage if they are forced to stop using a product which remains available in neighbouring countries.

President Emmanuel Macron has promised that RoundUp will banned in France in the next 36 months at the latest.

It is already illegal in French public parks.

Europe warns that austerity is the coming thing

As for the European budget, the Commission is warning that handouts to member countries are going to decline by at least 15 percent in the next decade.

Brexit, the departure of the United Kingdom from the trading bloc, is going to leave an annual hole of 10 billion euros in the budget. Additional spending on defence and immigration is also going to put pressure on the purse strings.

Brussels intends to spend more money on central and eastern Europe, reducing the envelope for France and Germany.

And the Common Agtricultural Policy will take a big hit, being cut to 350 billion euros for the six years up to 2027, down from the current package of 408 billion.

Work can seriously damage your health

A quarter of all French employees are hyperstressed. That's revealed by right-wing paper Le Figaro, which points to huge disparities in stress levels depending on what you actually do to make a crust. And the problem is due to the fact that workers do not have sufficient time or independence, and are the victims of rudeness and a sense of uselessness.

The figures are based on a four-year study of 32,000 employees.

Six percent of French workers are clinically depressed. Twenty-nine percent are on the verge of depression.

On the bright side, 51 percent say their jobs cause them very little stress.

Women are far more likely to be stressed at work than men. Health and social workers are the most likely to suffer extreme levels of tension. And the worst affected are those in the 40 to 50 age bracket.

Macron tries to turn the page in Africa

Left-leaning Libération looks at Emmanuel Macron's vision of Africa as the French president embarks on a three-nation continental tour.

He will focus on youth, says Libé, and make the same promises already made by his predecessors. But he has no more chance than Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 or François Hollande in 2012 of being able to keep his promises.

The president's office has been busy explaining that this time is different. First of all in the choice of destinations - Burkina Faso and Ghana are not usually on the French leader's agenda, even if Côte d'Ivoire is a virtually obligatory stop.

Macron has promised to answer questions after his speech to 800 students at the University of Ouagadougou, without any filter.

Except that there will be time for only four questions. Expect at least one question on the 1987 assassination of Thomas Sankara, with France still keeping crucial documents under wraps claiming that they are security sensitive. And there could be another question on how Europe is dealing with unwanted African migrants. To say nothing of French involvement in the 2014 escape of ousted Burkinabé president Blaise Campaoré, currently living in Abidjan where he has taken Ivorian citizenship.

Will President Macron have the answers?

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