French press review 26 July 2012
This morning's front pages are dominated, yet again, by the trials and tribulations of the French motor industry.
Le Monde looks back at government promises to pour 1.8 billion euros into the car sector, much of the money to be used to encourage people to buy ecologically correct electric or hybrid cars.
The centrist newspaper also wants to know how PSA Peugeot-Citroën, much in the news of late because of plans to sack 8,000 workers, managed to lose 816 million euros in the first six months of this year, having made nearly the same amount (806 million if you insist) just one year earlier.
Some of the missing money can be accounted for by an eight per cent decline in European car sales but it also appears that the "losses" include nearly 600 million euros that has been put aside by management to compensate those workers who will have to be sacked as part of a company-wide "rebuilding programme".
The assembly plant at Aulnay-sou-Bois, north of Paris, is to close, with the loss of 3,300 jobs. Other French production sites are to be "improved", which involves more sackings, more compensation. Plants in Russia, Latin America and China are also to close: more sackings, probably less compensation.
The crucial problem for France's Socialist government is that the local jobs lost add people to the already dramatically long dole queues with almost three million French people out of work.
Communist l'Humanité is unhappy that government plans to save the industry have done nothing to protect individual jobs. The communist paper's editorial suggests that the hoohah about supporting the development of clean cars is being used as a (non-polluting) smoke screen to cover the key issue, which is the continuing decline of the French industrial sector.
For once, the communists at L'Humanité seem to be looking through the same end of the telescope as the right-wing toffs at Le Figaro. They're not, of course, seeing the same thing, but at least they're facing the same way.
Le Figaro's main headline reads "Minister's plan falls flat". The minister in question is Arnaud Montebourg, the man responsible for trying to get France working again. Le Figaro says the electric car plan will cost 490 million euros but will do nothing fundamental to improve industrial competitivity or reduce the crippling cost of labour.