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France

French Press Review 29 December 2017

media

The earth's climate out of control. The mess on the French railways. The mess in the French health service. And, good news from the stock market, though it could be better.

Le Monde's front page lede this morning declares that "the climate is out of control."

The paper notes that this year global warming has been at a record level for the third year running.

"Latest data from meteorologists, just released, show worsening global warming," le Monde reports, adding that 2017 is the hottest year ever recorded, after 2015 and 2016, marked by the natural and aggravating effect of El Niño."

What's more, the hurricane season has been exceptional, with its attendant human catastrophes and economic costs. There have been record-breaking heatwaves, apocalyptic forest fires in California and Europe. Prolonged droughts in some places. Floods of Biblical magnitude elsewhere. "And," notes le Monde, after a pause, atmospheric emissions of CO2 have increased again.

"The time when the public debate was saturated with talk of a "halt" or the "pause" in the warming now seems very remote," the paper says.

********

More doom and gloom from the popular daily le Parisien, although it is more localised.

"When the SNCF derails," is the front page story. The SNCF, by the way, is France's state owned and run Railway network.

"Computer failures, lack of information for passengers, chaotic stations, the bugs multiply."

The paper says that SNCF management has been summoned by the Minister responsible to explain itself in January.

For the record, SNCF runs than 15,000 trains and has 4 million daily users. It's a business with a turnover of 32 billion euros per year. Complaints are commonplace. The worry is that, at present, 70 per cent of French people think that services have deteriorated to unacceptable levels.

*******

Le Figaro looks on the bright side. Not with regard to climate change, you understand, but the rude good health of the Paris stock market and investment in the French economy.

The CAC 40, the flagship index of the Paris Stock Exchange, rose nearly 10% in one year, to the great satisfaction of investors.

That said, only 3.5 million French hold shares of companies as against almost double that fifteen years ago.

Will investors return en masse? Le Figaro hopes so and believes tax cuts on investment income can help. Has enough been done, the conservative paper asks. It says the answer is no and calls on President Emmanuel Macron to fulfil his promise to cut public spending which, by some wizardry I can't fathom, le Figaro believes will encourage long term investments in private enterprises.

*******

Unpredictable as ever, left-leaning Libération gives over its front page to what it headlines "the Hospital Crutch."

This is a reference to the number of foreign trained doctors the paper says are propping up the French health service.

"The number of practitioners with a foreign degree has doubled between 2007 and 2017, according to a study of the order of doctors," says Libé.

The paper's editorial declares that "The French hospital system is out of breath. Not enough staff, too much budget pressure, technologies increasingly sophisticated and expensive, an ageing population and therefore increasing demand."

However - the subject of foreign trained medics seems to be taboo, for fear that a link is made between a foreign diploma and lower quality of care. Which, says Libé, is not the case.

What is true is that many are underpaid or exploited, the paper says.

Last month, dozens of them gathered in front of the Ministry of Health to express their anger and demand that, with equal competence, they be treated in the same way as those trained in France.

Next month, the government is to announce measures to revitalise the hospital system. Given the situation, Libé believes what it calls "homoeopathic treatment" isn't enough. The system, it says, needs a real shock.

I'm reminded of the scene in Frankenstein movies where the cobbled together creature is brought to life by a massive jolt of electricity. Let's hope the outcome here in France is happier than in the movies.

 
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