Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It is not a European problem

One of the more infuriating aspects of MSM reporting of European matters (apart from the frequently displayed ignorance) is the tendency to talk of Europe when they mean individual countries.

It may seem to David Rennie that “paralysis is now Europe’s default setting” but what he is writing about are two different countries with different problems. Italy is facing one of its not unusual electoral stalemates with many weeks of negotiations for a left-wing coalition that will be unable to do anything about the various economic problems. Yes, these have been exacerbated by EU rules and membership of the euro but they are basically Italian problems.

France, as we know, is sui generis when it comes to problems. Having suffered from riots by teenagers and young people who cannot find jobs and promised to do something about it, the government then found itself confronted by rioting teenagers and young people who think they will be getting jobs, no matter what, and do not want those to be jeopardized by any kind of flexibility.

Result: one government climb-down, one prime-ministerial career ruined and any idea of economic reform shelved. But it is a French crisis caused by the French. It is not a European crisis. Nor does it indicate anything about the rest of Europe. In fact, if it lets France sink or swim the EU might actually find itself in an advantageous position, not that we would wish that to happen.

The update on the youth employment law in France is that a heavily modified version has been passed by the National Assembly and has gone to the Senate.

Among other things it makes provisions for
“… state support for employers hiring young people facing "the most difficulties in gaining access to the labour market".”
That, I think, is where we came in after the riots in the banlieus last autumn.

Meanwhile, the students have decided that demos and the odd riot is much more fun than all those boring lectures and, anyway, if they go home, who knows what the government might do. Possibly even legislate, having been elected to do so.
“On Tuesday, only half of France's 62 universities that were not closed for holidays were functioning normally, the education ministry said.

Demonstrations drew at least 2,500 people onto the streets of Toulouse on Tuesday, reports said. Smaller demonstrations took place in Grenoble, Marseille, Paris and Rennes.”
One wonders how many of these spoilt little brats expect cushy, state-sponsored jobs when they finally manage to get their degrees. Ah well, those who have the jobs now did exactly the same in 1968, when Prime Minister Pompidou paid heavy dues to the unions. Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même.

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