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What the papers said 4 July 2018

rfi English, Jul 4

Europe holds its breath as it awaits domino effect of Angela Merkel's capitulation to coalition rebels on the migrants deal; the US trade war; Macron’s popularity ratings, and hospital woes.

The big story running on the front pages is a compromise struck by Chancellor Angela Merkel with rebels in her cabinet on the management of the migrants’ crisis, to prevent the collapse of her coalition government.

According to La Croix Merkel agreed to tighten border controls and set up closed "transit or internment centres" to hold migrants on the Austrian frontier which according to the newspaper constitutes an about-turn in her liberal refugee policy.

The Catholic daily describes the deal as a lame duck compromise which will not work, as it immediately sparked resistance from Austria and Italy.

The two slammed the so-called wrong attitude from Berlin which brings no solution and undermines last week's hard-fought EU fix that sees the bloc working together to curb migrant arrivals.

La Croix says it won't be long before the domino effect of the deal, a weakening of the coalition in power in Berlin as well as incidents and tensions at Europe's internal borders.

It should be recalled that Chancellor Merkel decided to open Germany's borders to asylum seekers, in 2015 as millions of them fled the war in Syria and Iraq into Europe.

Since then, popular misgivings over the migrant influx have given populist and anti-immigration forces a boost across several European nations, including Italy and Austria where far-right parties are now sharing power.

L'Humanité warns Europeans to expect the worst during Austria's six-month presidency of the European Union which began on July 1 after three boats loaded with 180 migrants on board went down in five days.

The paper wonders how EU leaders managed to pick Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his far-right populist FPÖ party, who are allies of France's Marie Le Pen to preside over a Europe that protects. "What a monstrous symbol", exclaims the Communist daily.

Le Monde published a threat by the European Union to launch reprisal measures against the United States in Donald Trump's on-going trade war with America's former traditional partners.

Le Monde reports that the EU has agreed on a plan to tax 252 billion euros of US exports which represent more than 19 percent of their overall volume of transatlantic trade. The paper warns that the impact of the commercial war could have the consequences of the 2008 and 2009 economic recession, if the conflict is not quickly resolved.

President Emmanuel Macron's communications strategy is the subject of Le Figaro's front-page article, the right-wing publication pointing to its limits. This is after an IFOP poll for le Journal du Dimanche recorded a 1-point drop in June in the continuing slide in his popularity rating, down from 64 percent rating in June 2017.

According to Le Figaro, despite claims by Macron supporters that there is no fire in the house, the catch phrase strategy that had worked so well for him doesn't score political points any more, to a point where his messages in recent weeks come across as nothing more than posturing on social media.

Le Figaro claims that through the videos laden with anecdotes have instead blurred his messaging to the point of entertaining controversies about political convictions that were clearly defined when he came to office.

Libération for its part laments about the so-called state of emergency in French hospitals which it summarises as being marked by suicides, attempted suicides, burn-out and countless cases of depression.

The left-leaning publication points to a dramatic paradox that medics, surgeons, nurses charged with treating patients are themselves very sick.

Libé also runs a long list of old problems which it says are plaguing the health chain. They range from a shortage of beds and hospital staff to over-crowding at emergency services.

According to Libération, it will take a holistic reflection on urban medicine and a revamp of the health system, to treat the chronic ailment afflicting France’s health sector.

As Prime Minister Edouard Philippe began a series of promised interviews with his Ministers, to evaluate the evaluate the implementation of their work plans, le Parisien sat down for a frank interview with Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot. He as due to present his plan of action for ecological transition on Wednesday.

The paper says he discusses at length controversial issues such as the government's policy about the glyphosate herbicide, nuclear energy and palm oil imports, which had put the renowned environmentalist at odds with the government, fuelling speculation about his future.


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