If Europe is a vessel at sea, it is off course and it's not clear who is as the helm. The 'lost at sea' metaphor comes up a couple of times in the French papers. One paper, meanwhile, suggests certain French traders are seeking spiritual solace after years on the financial rollercoaster. That's the focus for this look at the French papers, Friday 4th November 2011.
Libération, the main left-wing daily in France, headlines “Europe à la dérive”, meaning the EU is not quite sinking but is drifting in uncharted waters. The picture on the front page shows the Greek flag disappearing into the fog. One article in the paper, entitled “The Drunken European Boat” says that eurozone leaders are struggling to contain the Greek crisis and make up for lack of governance. It says the brawls going on between countries that are supposed to be “friends” are the worst Europe has seen in the six decades of creating the European Union. The paper says there is a “run for your life” (sauve-qui-peut”) attitude among certain Europe’s leaders and only French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have come to the helm.
Le Figaro looks at reaction to the crisis in Germany where MPs in Merkel’s party are suggesting a referendum for Germans on the future of the eurozone. It says the general feeling among the Germans is that “it’s not their job to tighten the belt in place of the Greeks”. The paper points out that election pressures are being felt, with survey showing one in two Germans do not want Merkel to be Chancellor again in 2013.
Sticking with that paper, there is an interview with Greek singer Nana Mouskouri who, it says, is saddened and furious in equal measure at the Papandreou government. She tells the paper that: “he was elected promising to raise salaries and pensions. When you are prime minister you can’t just put the responsibility on to Europe”.
Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui-en-France is saying that some bankers and traders are so disoriented by this crisis that they attending churches and monasteries to reflect. It says that one Church in the La Défense business district here in Paris has had a 25 percent increase in the number of faithful attending since 2008. And those people are from the finance industry. The paper quotes a Friar Guillaume at a monastery in central France saying that a lot of the people coming to them on retreat “feel guilty about the financial crisis and their high bonuses”. And one French business school says requests by its students to attend a seminary for theological training has doubled since the financial crisis began.
Still with Le Parisien, the paper reports on President Obama’s “friendship” with Nicolas Sarkozy saying that the American leader could be an election asset for him at this point as he struggles in the polls. Both men will be interviewed together on prime time TV here in France on Friday evening. It says that is a “dream” billing for Sarkozy six months from France’s presidential election.