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What the papers said 14 June 2018

rfi English, Jun 14

President Macron's hard talk about "crazy social security dough" sparks outcry from critics of his "rich man's presidency".

We begin with reactions to President Emmanuel Macron's policy statement on social spending which he described as being only about putting more money on the table. Macron spoke his mind in a major address in Montpellier on Wednesday.

The speech came just a day after a social media video in which he decried "a crazy amount of money spent on social security".

France allocates the equivalent of 31.5 percent of its GDP on social spending such as benefits for the sick, poor or elderly, far more than Germany which spends 25 percent, according to data from the OECD economic research group.

The message sparked a wave of denunciation by his leftist critics as further evidence that he is a rich man's president who has a problem with poor people.

L'Humanité says it needs to be made clear to the people that the blunt expression of the president's mindset was posted on social media by Macron's own communications office.

The clip, according to the Communist newspaper, constitutes a résumé of his plan to tear down the social safety net for 9 million struggling citizens hardest hit by the economic crisis. In the paper's view it appears destined to blame them as being responsible for their condition.

According to the l'Humanité what the President is bent on doing is to spread the virus of job insecurity and then impose a system which would allow the kind of cheap jobs on offer in the United Kingdom.

Health, jobs, pensions: Macron's big bang. That's the caption of Le Figaro's front page report.

The conservative publication comes to the defence of the president arguing that far from resolving the problems of the poor, the so-called "great waste" (marked by a free rise in social expenditure, coupled with exorbitant increases in compulsory contributions that choke businesses and individuals, stifling growth and job creation), only worsens the situation of the French economy.

For its part, Les Echos underlines the difficulty President Macron encounters in demonstrating that even though he goes on a money-saving operation, he really has people's interests at heart.

According to the newspaper, Macron's remarks about the squandering of crazy dough and people not making it; are certain to stick in peoples' minds. The problem from Les Echos’ stand point is whether they will retain his apparent sympathy for struggling families or the spiraling costs of social security.

Le Parisien takes up the tense stand-off between France and Italy after President Macron accused the new populist government in Rome of "cynicism and irresponsibility" over the treatment of the Aquaria migrants rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean since the weekend with more than 600 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast.

Italy, who refused to take in the ship in, reacted by announcing the postponement of high-level talks with France scheduled on Friday if doesn’t get an official apology from Paris.

While Spain has accepted to welcome the ship at its port of Valencia the talks between Macron and new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte meant to focus on the contentious issue of migration remain in doubt.

La Croix says it doesn't understand what Italy really wants. According to the Catholic daily if Rome wants to see a the formulation of a new European immigration policy that would define the terms of an equitable sharing of the burden by all EU member states, then they must work closely with decisive partners such as France and Germany to strike a deal with other EU countries. Empty provocation will lead to nothing, concludes La Croix.

World Cup fever

The kick off this Thursday of the football World Cup in Russia inspired a flurry of comments from the national dailies. L'Equipe relishes at the start of the dance with the "Tsars" about to get underway with Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo facing their last opportunity to lift the coveted trophy.

Right-wing Le Figaro says the French 'Bleus' full of ferocious appetite and a head full of dreams are not hiding their ambitions to be crowned in Russia.

According to Communist l'Humanité, the World Cup is a great opportunity for President Putin to use the global event to showcase his country and for self-aggrandisement with the stakes of soft power go well beyond the ball which will be kicked around.

Even the Catholic La Croix marvels at the sports rise into a global passion attracting 3 billion fans (half of the world's population) who will be in front of their television sets on July 15 to watch the final.

Left-leaning Libération claims that despite the passion enthusiasm and fascination people have for football, the sport remains laden with all sorts of abuses. The paper points to the scarcity of impartial referees in the sport, the crazy money earned by players who despite being over-paid still indulge in tax evasion, warning that football hasn't done enough to improve on its happy but vicious environment.

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