Thursday, March 25, 2010

US-Russia Accord, and Nobody Cares

A nuclear arms deal between Russia and the US ought to attract some attention in Europe, but it doesn't seem to have done. Nothing in on-line Le Monde, for example. Bizarre, no? And no reaction from the President formerly known as Hyper? Not like him. Is he in a funk, or what? Maybe the French have no faith in the Republicans in the US Senate to ratify the thing.

Sarkozy and Merkel Save the Euro, For Now

The tough talk is over for the moment: European governments will kick in 2/3 of what the Greeks need to cover their losses, the IMF the other third. Merkel insisted on steps toward tightening fiscal discipline in Europe, with a report to be submitted by the end of the year about how this might be done. À suivre.

Jean Quatremer's comment: un accord en trompe-l'oeil

Panic on the Right

The voters have really shaken things up with their sanction vote. Some in the UMP are even thinking of challenging Sarkozy on one of his flagship measures: le bouclier fiscal. Tax breaks for the rich just don't sit well when you're cutting back on civil service jobs, schoolteachers, nurses, and firemen and bailing out Greece.

Follow-Up on the Zemmour Affair

Le Figaro has decided not to fire Zemmour; Philippe Bilger, avocat général, has defended him; and Eolas here offers an interesting argument in rebuttal. And a rebuttal to the rebuttal from Bilger here. And now Bilger has been summoned by his hierarchy to explain his public statements on this issue.

Laurent on the European Summit and the Euro Crisis

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the name of Éloi Laurent, a brilliant young economist at the OFCE, who has only recently returned to Europe after a semester at Harvard, where he was a valued presence at the Center for European Studies. Here he discusses today's European summit and the Greek crisis.

Villepin on the March

It's a neat trick to lead a political movement while hanging from a butcher's hook, but Dominique de Villepin is giving it the old college try--yet again. Today he held a press conference to announce the launching of a movement on June 19 (l'Appel du 18 juin + 1, en quelque sorte). Why he didn't just launch the movement today and get it over with ... well, I suppose these things take planning -- balloons, dancing girls, musicians, trained bears -- and then, too, it might look unseemly to seize the opportunity of the supreme leader's supreme setback to throw acid in his face. But DdV couldn't resist a little Schadenfreude:

"J'ai le sentiment qu'au lendemain des élections, ce n'est pas un changement de politique qui a été choisi alors qu'il s'impose", a regretté l'ancien chef du gouvernement. "Le débat sur l'identité nationale a montré qu'on pouvait jouer avec tout, on ne joue pas avec la nation", a estimé M. Villepin, qui a parlé de "politique de réformes éparpillées". Il a également dénoncé le non-remplacement d'un fonctionnaire sur deux comme une politique "pas efficace"

Ouf!  Whose "politique de réformes éparpillées" could he have had in mind, I wonder? And the announcement comes on the very day when Carla Bruni expressed the wish that she and her hubby be allowed to live out "the time left to them" in relative peace, hoping that he decides to call it quits after one term. (She has no doubt taken note of Chantal Jouanno's split with Sarkozy -- on the matter of the carbon tax, s'entend. What did you think I meant? I'm not one of those "irresponsible journalists" to whom Bruni refers in the interview, who take their cues from bloggers named Mickey or Superman.) Villepin will no doubt derive encouragement from this. He'll have to, because he's unlikely to be welcomed with open arms by what he refers to as his "famille politique," where Jean-François Copé has organized a meeting for next Monday of potential frondeurs, now emboldened to dictate their terms to the enfeebled king in his Elysian redoubt. The triangulaire on the Right could well prove as diverting as the free-for-all on the Left. Meanwhile, I suppose Claude Guéant is running the country, along with the socialo-ecologists who now have a lock on everything this side of Strasbourg. (h/t TexExile)

Jouanno: The MEDEF Did It

Chantal Jouanno:

"C'est clair, c'est le Medef qui a planté la taxe carbone. Au nom de la compétitivité. Est-ce que le Medef s'est ému des 2 milliards de bonus distribués aux banquiers ?", s'agace Mme Jouanno dans le quotidien, mettant aussi en cause les "céréaliers intensifs".