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Euro 2016 Press review Referendum United Kingdom

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French press review 22 June 2016


Communist L'Humanité and conservative Le Figaro both continue to rake over the possibilities and problems associated with tomorrow's vote on Europe by the cross-Channel neighbours. Will they stay or will they go, and how worried should the rest of us be in either case? Those seem to be the key questions.

L'Humanité blames free-market economics for the referendum, saying that, if the opinion pollsters are having trouble telling the sides apart, that may be because there's so little of substance separating those who want to stay in Europe from those who want to leave.

The debate has been centred on selfish concerns, a fear of a wave of immigration, a loss of autonomy, with social obligations and environmental rules being set by Brussels, the paper says.

And it believes the fault all goes back to the European institutions themselves, who have never had the courage to stand up to a succession of British prime ministers and their demands for special treatment.

Finally, says L'Huma, whether the British decide to stay or leave, the liberal economic model will not have been brought into question and the forces of conservatism will notch up yet another victory.

Forget peace, we want prosperity

Right-wing Le Figaro says that Europe faces the risk of a domino effect if London decides to leave.

Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark, to name just three, all have noisy anti-European opposition parties and huge populations of Eurosceptical voters. The very idea that an EU member country can organise a referendum on membership points to an institutional weakness and boosts the credit of those, like the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who want to see an end to external interference in national affairs.

For many Europeans, according to Le Figaro, the union no longer represents the promise of peace but has become a threat to prosperity.

How sick is French socialism?

The main headline in left-leaning Libération reads "The Socialists pay for their divisions".

The report notes that buildings associated with the ruling party have been vandalised during several recent demonstrations against labour law reform, suggesting that the violence on the streets is an expression of growing frustration by left-wing supporters with what they consider to be the liberal drift of the current government.

And they warn that the street action is only the tip of the iceberg, with the anger of the French left likely to become fully visible in the run-up to next year's elections.

As Libé makes clear, much of the vandalism has targeted offices run by Socialists who are themselves in open revolt against the official party line, leading to a double sense of injustice among those who feel they are being punished for the crimes of others.

French cement maker paid 'taxes' to Islamic State

Le Monde looks at the ways in which the French cement company Lafarge, the world leader in the sector, indirectly contributed to the finances of the terrorist organisation Islamic State.

Lafarge was running a cement factory in northern Syria at the moment when the region was overrun by Islamic State fighters. The company continued to use the facility, paying the sums demanded for its lorries at IS roadblocks, and accepting the armed group's taxes on fuel and other basic necessities. The company appears to have signed a formal agreement with the terrorist organisation to ensure the free passage of its products.

It was only when IS demanded a 15 percent return on the output of the Syrian factory that Lafarge decided to shut up shop. The cement factory is currently occupied by French and American special forces.

And finally, in case you thought it was over, football!

The main headline in spoorts daily L'Equipe reads "Croatia blow Spain away," a reference to yesterday's 2-1 victory for the Croats in their final group match, the first Euro defeat for the title holders in 12 years and a result that earns the Spaniards a quarter-final clash with Italy and possibly a meeting with Germany in the last four, two opponents the defending European champions would gladly have avoided.