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French press review 28 October 2013


Stormy times for the French government this morning with protests over taxation giving rise to speculation that there are u-turns ahead. 

The main headline in business paper Les Echos says the lads in charge are losing their sense of direction on the question of taxation.

Catholic paper La Croix has the government under pressure, while right-wing Le Figaro says the executive is facing a popular revolt and will be forced to make further concessions.

Aujourd'hui en France summarises the whole thing by printing grim pictures of the president and the prime minister on either side of a headline reading "It's just not working".

There are two main bones of contention . . . the authorities, anxious to collect as much tax as possible, had proposed a new tax on various forms of investment, savings schemes with wonderful acronyms like PEA, PEL and PEE, but the French are touchy about their savings and the government has been forced to back down.

The other bone is a biggy.

It concerns something called the ecotax, a not unreasonable idea to charge road transport companies for the damage they do to the roads and to the air we breathe, and invest that money in less polluting forms of transport. The original proposal came from the administration of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, was voted unanimously and has all the hallmarks of a piece of commonsense legislation.

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Except that food producers in far-off parts of the country feel that the additional transport costs will be the final nail in their collective coffin. The government has offered to cut the tax to compensate for long journeys, notably from Brittany in the wild west, but Breton producers and transporters say that won't do.

There's also the 75 per cent tax on salaries over one million euros in French football clubs. That, perhaps not too surprisingly, is not causing a huge public outcry.

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