France Military Eyes 2014 Cuts, Far-right Seeks To Benefit

The law is part of France’s broader regulation of book prices and curbs on discounting, which was passed in 1981 by the Socialist government at the time to protect small bookshops from supermarket chains. In the past decade, online outlets have challenged physical bookstores, prompting French publishers to lobby for a change in the law to stop what they call Amazon’s “dumping” and “unfair competition”. According to a French parliamentary report, online book sales rose to 13.1 percent of total book sales in 2011 from 3.2 percent in 2003. The country is still home to more bookstores than most countries with 2,000-2,500 in a country of 65 million people, compared with 1,000 in Britain, which has roughly the same-sized population. “The (book pricing) law is part of our cultural heritage,” said conservative lawmaker Christian Kert who sponsored the bill. France’s lower chamber, with the support of the Socialist government, passed the law unanimously. It will now go to the Senate, which is expected to pass it by the end of the year. For its part, Amazon said the law would have the perverse effect of hurting sales of books from the back catalogue and from smaller publishing houses, which were often bought online. “All measures that aim to raise the price of books sold online will curb the ability of French people to buy cultural works and discriminates against those who buy online,” it said. The proposed law is only the latest example of France taking aim at U.S.-based Internet giants. Last week the country’s data protection watchdog moved closer to fining Google for the way it stores and tracks user information after the search engine ignored a three-month ultimatum to bring its practices in line with local law. France has called on the European Union to regulate global Internet companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook more aggressively, to counter their growing dominance of online commerce and services. It is pushing within the OECD and G20 organizations to tighten tax rules to make sure that Internet companies cannot avoid tax by locating their headquarters in low-cost EU countries. Amazon and Google are subject of ongoing tax audits in France. (Reporting by Emile Picy; Writing by Leila Abboud; editing by David Evans and Jane Merriman)

Could France see the return of Nicolas Sarkozy?

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann By John Irish and Emmanuel Jarry PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 8:21am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – France’s military will cut about 7,500 jobs next year, a defense ministry source said on Thursday, detailing government belt-tightening plans that the far-right hopes will deliver it votes at municipal elections in 2014. The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy)

19 – a 4-0 loss against Manchester City. Cabaye missed it because Pardew said he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play, and he only made his first appearance as a substitute at home to Fulham 12 days later, amid reports that he had refused to train. Some fans jeered him when he came on, although others backed him. “My feelings haven’t changed. What happened at Newcastle … their (the fans’) feelings corresponded to what (message) the club wanted to get across as well. Given that I haven’t spoken about it and won’t explain what happened, they (the fans) chose sides,” he said. “But that’s part of a career, you accept that and I don’t hold a grudge. The most important thing for me are the two games coming up and the rest of the season with Newcastle.” He has since returned to the team and scored with a brilliant first-time strike in a 3-2 loss at Everton last week. Pressed as to why he did not want to explain what happened during the summer transfer saga, Cabaye hinted at further revelations to come. “Because it’s in the past. I think the only person who can explain (what happened) apart from me is Joe Kinnear, and if he’s honest he’ll say it,” Cabaye said. “But it won’t come out of my mouth because I’m here for the national team, so I’ll talk about Newcastle after Tuesday’s game.” Newcastle owner Mike Ashley hired Kinnear as the club’s director of football in June.

Cabaye feared for his France future during summer

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said Sarkozy had to overcome the “Karachi Affair” hurdle before he could contemplate a return to politics. “If he navigates his way past this particular obstacle then it might be possible, but he would have to go back on his pledge never to return,” Hewson told CNBC. “Any return would probably need to appeal to his ego and he would need to be asked,” he added. (Read More: Moscovici to France’s businesses: stop French-bashing ) Furthermore, Sarkozy’s path to a political return could be scuppered by divisions within his own party. A bitter UMP leadership election last November was left unresolved after Francois Fillon and Jean-Francois Cope both claimed victory. While Cope was eventually declared the winner, both sides alleged fraud and new elections were slated for this year. They are yet to materialize. With Fillon and Cope still battling it out, would a Sarkozy return cause more divisions or could he be a unifier? Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy and once a staunch ally, told the JDD weekly paper this week, “I cannot take on all the consequences of a presidential candidacy and not be in conflict with Nicolas Sarkozy, given his state of mind. De facto, we are in competition.” Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Natixis Asset Management, said Sarkozy would do best to bide his time before making a comeback. “He will be impatient to be the leader of the UMP, but if he does that too rapidly there is a risk that French citizens reject him. For me, the best strategy would be to come back in politics in 2016 as the man who could unify his party,” Waechter said. He added that while Sarkozy was popular within the UMP, he was less so outside: an Ifop survey in July revealed that 70 percent of the population believed Sarkozy would run for president in 2017, but only 40 percent actually wanted him to do so. As Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told CNBC, “He is a deeply, deeply polarizing figure in France.” Spiro took a similar line to Waechter, saying that it was too early for Sarkozy to bid for the UMP party leadership, and that with the party facing an insurgency from the French far-right, he would not want to divide the party further by interfering.