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French press review 29 June 2018


After playing several hours of extra time, Europe overnight agreed a new policy on immigration. It's the old policy, only worse.

Le Monde reports that the European Union finally reached agreement on the immigration question overnight.

It took the 28 member nations until 4.30 this morning to agree that the answer to the problem of drowning migrants is to increase the level of protection at Europe's external borders and strengthen the capacity of member states to refuse entry to asylum seekers.

French President Emmanuel Macron is delighted.

"This is a victory for European cooperation," he told journalists after the marathon debate.

In concrete terms Le Monde says the cooperative victory means that European states may, if they wish and on a purely voluntary basis, set up reception centres for migrants on their own territory.

But Europe has also decided to continue examining the possibility of establishing such centres elsewhere - in Turkey, or Libya, or the north African desert, for example. Between doing the dirty work themselves or paying Turks, Libyans or others to do it for them, European governments have left themselves an easy choice.

Last night's agreement specifically notes the need to increase the level of aid to Turkey and north Africa with a view to keeping migrant numbers down.

Controlled centres

There are also to be things called "controlled centres" where asylum applications will be examined. The details of such centres are not specified but we can expect barbed wire, overcrowding and a general desire among migrants to avoid ending up in such places, since a failed application will lead to immediate expulsion.

The Italian contingent, led by Giuseppe Conte, leader of a right-wing/far-right coalition elected for their determination to keep migrants out of Italy, say they are satisfied that the other 27 European states have finally recognised that the problem is a European one, not simply Italian.

Italy has not yet decided if it will establish its own reception centres.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is described by Le Monde as "less enthusiastic" than her colleagues. She says the final deal is broadly positive but further underlines the extent to which Europe is divided.

The solidarity of selfishness

Conservative daily Le Figaro also notes that Europe has reached agreement on the question of migrations.

The right-wing paper says the basis of the deal is the willingness or otherwise of individual member states to participate in the overall policy of immigration control.

But Le Figaro also underlines the determination of Europe to reinforce its external borders.

It remains to be seen what right-wing readers will make of the overnight decision by the 28 in Brussels to show solidarity by allowing each individual state to do what it wants.

But yesterday nearly three-quarters of persons questioned in a France Info/Le Figaro opinion poll considered that the Paris government was not dealing correctly with the migrant crisis.

The same poll shows that 60 percent of those questioned think that France accepts too many migrants. For those who admit to being sympathetic to the newly named National Rally, lately the National Front, the number who feel there are too many migrants shoots up to 98 percent. Seventy-six percent of mainstream right-wing supporters share that feeling.

Even if 73 percent of all voters feel that the current government is not doing a good job on migration, they do feel it's at least doing better than the Hollande administration on the same question.

But Europe is the real loser, with 73 percent of the French saying they no longer have any confidence in Brussels to deal with the migrant question, that's seven points worse than in 2015.

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