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French press review 2 January 2018

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What's ahead for France and the rest of the world? That's the question the papers we look at in the first French press review of 2018 address.


Let's start this New Year with Le Figaro.

The right-wing daily is asking questions about 2018.

"Will unemployment go down?", "Will the French be safer?", "Will the world finally stabilise?"... the list almost is enough to give you a panic attack.

On the international front, the paper predicts - no kidding! - more trouble coming from US President Donald Trump. Plus, it expects Europe to be in hot water with Brexit and rising populism in the east of the continent, even though, as it points out "the economy is back on track" and the EU actually survived 2017.

On the French side, Le Figaro focuses on security and the economy. It wonders if the reform of the legal system promised by President Emmanuel Macron will have an impact. Le Figaro seems to doubt unemployment will go down significantly in 2018, even though it is already aplauding Macron's proposed changes of the unemployment benefit system, which will include more monitoring of claimants.

Poverty and migration

Libération analyses Macron's first New Year address to the nation. It's safe to say that the left-wing daily isn't convinced by what the president said.

Firstly because the daily was expecting him to be a bit more original in his presentation - "He could even have been standing," it says. But no, Macron's first New Year speech was not very different to its predecessors, even a tad long at 18 minutes.

"In his speech, Emmanuel Macron presented himself as the protector of the poorest," writes Libé. "That's the opposite of his 'president of the rich' image."

But the problem here, says the daily, is the lack of specifics. There were no anouncement on how to help the poor and Macron didn't say a word about his tough policies on migrants.

Libération was even reminded of Nicolas Sarkozy when the centrist president decided to end his speech by calling for "France's rebirth". It almost sounds as if he's saying we should make France great again.

Five reforms for 2018

Meanwhile, Le Monde looks at five things Macron has promised to reform in 2018, even though it already feels as if a new reform is introduced every five days.

The first one will be on how unemployment benefits are distributed, explains Le Monde. It's technical but Macron wants the self-employed to be brought into the system.

Then there's the refugee question. Macron says that people who have had their asylum requests denied will be quickly sent back to their home country. This, says the centre-left daily, is already proving divisive.

Something that should not be divisive, however, is the French president's promise that "No woman should be afraid to walk down the street". In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, the president has promised to fight for equality between women and men.

A topic on which Macron will surely have to put up a fight is a proposal to reduce the number of MPs by one third. That's going to prove difficult, says Le Monde, especially because MPs will be the ones who have to approve their own firing.

And, last but not least, Macron will have to carry out a referendum on independence for New Caledonia. Mark my words, it's not the last time you'll hear of that French territory, which is near Australia, this year.