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France

French press review 19 February 2016

media DR

Border control occupies the opening pages of Le Monde this morning, as several European countries move to restrict the influx of migrants. Le Figaro asks whether the government will manage to pass its planned labour reform in parliament and Libération dwells on the pitfalls of massive surveillance.  

Le Monde is extremely preoccupied with borders this morning.

Its article on page two reminds its readers that if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union it will probably see its border control on the French side of the Channel move back to England, bringing the migrant camps in Calais a lot closer to home.

Le Monde says that local politicians on the French side are frustrated with the treaties which have left France to do all the dirty work in dealing with the thousands of asylum seekers trying to enter the UK.

But as the Brexit scenario becomes more realistic by the day, Le Monde says the prospect of migrants being able to cross freely over to the UK is becoming an important argument for British politicians keen to remain in the EU.

On the opposite page, Le Monde reports that borders in the Balkans are becoming more and more difficult to cross, due to the increasing amount of controls and quotas being introduced.

Since January 65,000 people travelling from Greece to Germany have passed through the region but many states are now worried that thousands of people will be left stranded on their territory if their neighbors suddenly decide to close their doors.

This week Serbia sent back 200 migrants from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan who were on their way from Croatia.

And, for the first time since the migrant crisis began, Austria has announced the use of quotas to control how many people can cross its border.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now worried about a chain reaction threatening the Schengen zone and has called for a common policy on the question, according to Le Monde.

The conservative newspaper Le Figaro is more interested in France's plans for labour law reform.

Just hours after Labour Minister Myriam El-Khomri released the first version of the bill aimed at simplifying the country's hefty code du travail (labour code), many MPs are already up in arms.

Le Figaro quotes Socialist MP Pascal Cherki as saying that the text looks as if it was written by the Medef, France's biggest employer federation.

The government plans to allow more space for negotiation between companies and their employees regarding working hours and salaries.

But? according to Le Figaro, many dissenting voices are starting to be heard within the ruling Socialist Party and it remains unsure whether the government will be able to pass the bill in parliament.

Le Figaro hints at large-scale demonstrations which could rattle the government in the coming months, a frightening prospect for François Hollande a year away from the next presidential election.

Pascal Cherki has called the bill an "electoral guillotine", according to Le Figaro.

Left-wing Libération boasts a dramatic front page devoted to surveillance.

The software company Apple is refusing to collaborate with the FBI by letting them retrieve data from equipment used by suspected terrorists.

For Apple this could put it on a slippery slope, as the technology could then one day be used to spy on any of its customers.

In his editorial, Laurent Joffrin asks whether anyone will be able to guarantee security services will work within the legal framework, and answers with a quote from the English writer and politician Lord Acton: "Power tends to corrupt people, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

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