For some years the European Union has been recommending that France carry out a series of policy initiatives in key areas such as public finances, pensions, unemployment benefit, workers' rights and even large-scale infrastructure projects such as digital development. Now, says Mediapart's Martine Orange, these policies have found a home – in centrist candidate Emmanuel Macrons's manifesto for the French presidency. In some cases they are almost word for word.
On February 6th the beleaguered right-wing presidential candidate was forced to admit that the major insurance firm AXA was a client of his consultancy firm 2F Conseil. Between 2012 and 2014 the group paid 200,000 euros to Fillon, who was a Member of Parliament at the time. The money was apparently paid to the former prime minister because he could “open doors in Brussels and Berlin” as new European Union insurance regulations were being implemented. Mediapart's Martine Orange argues that the affair is a clear example of conflict of interest.
This spring's presidential elections in France, in which the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen is tipped to reach the second-round playoff, has the potential to set in train the victories of other anti-EU parties in elections across Europe warned Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA trade deal between the European Union and Canada was in deep trouble after the Belgian region of Wallonia refused to accept it, despite strong efforts behind the scenes by neighbouring France to put pressure on the French-speaking area. Finally a last-minute deal was reached on Thursday October 27th, but came too late to allow Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau to fly to Brussels to sign the deal at a summit that has now been postponed. Martine Orange looks at how a small Belgian region became a focal point of opposition to a trade deal many fear will act as a Trojan horse for North American multinationals.
As European farm ministers met earlier this month at a château in France's Loire Valley to reframe EU agricultural policy, a detailed study of European farm aid has revealed a major contradiction right at the heart of that policy; that the most polluting farms actually receive the most cash from subsidies. And amid French farmers' protests against falling prices and shrivelling incomes, the study also showed that in the current economic context, the usual strategy of continually boosting production is no longer an option. Jade Lindgaard reports.
After a bitter dispute lasting more than a week, the giant French dairy group Lactalis has finally agreed to pay its dairy farmers higher prices for their milk. However, the anger of the protests has once again highlighted the desperate plight of many dairy farmers in France. As Laurent Geslin reports, an entire way of life is in danger of disappearing as smaller-scale farmers find it increasingly hard to make a living.
The recent decision by former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso to join Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs as an advisor caused outrage across much of Europe. Apart from, that is, at the heart of the Brussels institution itself where Barroso's successor Jean-Claude Juncker has only just, and grudgingly, criticised the move. However, disgruntled EU staff feel Barroso's appointment further tarnishes the EU's image and are examining ways to sanction their former boss. Ludovic Lamant reports.
For the past ten years, a European Union-funded mission in the West Bank is training the Palestinian police in modern policing methods. With police instructors from EU member states, the EUPOL COPPS mission is aimed at building an effective police force ahead of the possible creation of a Palestinian state. But the challenges are vast, and the programme’s future is uncertain. Mediapart correspondent Chloé Demoulin reports from the West Bank mission, beginning with the unusual scene of a lesson by French riot police on how to disperse a peaceful sit-in.
The surprise vote in Britain highlighted numerous fractures within British society, in particular between old and young voters. As Mediapart English's Michael Streeter reports, the referendum also persuaded many disgruntled and impoverished working class voters to vote for the first time in years – and punish the Establishment elites.
The British 'no' vote in the referendum on the European Union marks the victory of the extreme right, represented by the repugnant Nigel Farage and his UKIP party. In that sense it is a tragedy. But this 'no' vote also signs the death warrant of a European Union that has turned away from its citizens. Now the whole European project needs to be rebuilt and Mediapart's editor François Bonnet wonders whether that isn't good news...
by François Bonnet
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