Opinion

Paul Taylor

Algeria War wounds still bleed in French politics

Paul Taylor
Oct 28, 2010 11:49 UTC

algiers barricade (Photo: Algiers barricade by French settlers backing General Jacques Massu, January 1960/Michel Marcheux)

Nearly 50 years after Algeria won independence from France, the unhealed wounds of the war of decolonisation keep wrenching at French society and could play a key role in the 2012 presidential election.

The unending Algerian trauma explains why France finds it so hard to integrate its large Muslim minority, why second and third generation Muslims of Maghreb origin born in France often feel alienated from their country of birth, and why politicians continue to find fertile ground in their quest for votes.

“There is an endless battle of memory, both within France and between the French and the Algerians,” said Benjamin Stora, the leading French historian of the Maghreb.

In the last few weeks, a law has come into force banning the wearing of the face-covering Islamic niqab veil in public, and parliament is debating a bill to strip recent immigrants of their French citizenship if they commit certain serious crimes.

Both measures were part of an offensive by conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy to woo voters hostile to immigration, many of whom believe France has too many Arabs and Muslims.

Iran’s Khamenei scores points with cleric critics

Paul Taylor
Oct 21, 2010 14:22 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appears to have scored a political success by gathering leading clerics in the holy city of Qom around him in a show of unity after months of in-fighting.

Iranian media highlighted pictures on Thursday of a smiling Khamenei sitting with several top Shi’ite Muslim dignitaries, including some who have been critical since the disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year.

The carefully filtered images reinforced Khamenei’s call for Iranians to unite against foreign enemies he accused of trying to destabilize the country through economic sanctions and denying it the right to advanced nuclear technology.

Analysis – Divided ECB faces widening policy dilemmas

Paul Taylor
Oct 18, 2010 11:48 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A divided European Central Bank faces mounting policy dilemmas that are set to make Jean-Claude Trichet’s final year as president probably the most difficult since he took the helm of the single currency area in 2003.

The central issue is when and how to phase out unprecedented emergency measures taken to support governments, banks and the real economy during the global financial crisis and, in the past six months, the euro zone’s debt crisis.

The ECB under Trichet has experienced what the U.S. military calls “mission creep,” shouldering responsibility — for lack of any other federal European institution — for stabilizing the euro zone economy and financial system.

Divided ECB faces widening policy dilemmas

Paul Taylor
Oct 18, 2010 09:47 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A divided European Central Bank faces mounting policy dilemmas that are set to make Jean-Claude Trichet’s final year as president probably the most difficult since he took the helm of the single currency area in 2003.

The central issue is when and how to phase out unprecedented emergency measures taken to support governments, banks and the real economy during the global financial crisis and, in the past six months, the euro zone’s debt crisis.

The ECB under Trichet has experienced what the U.S. military calls “mission creep”, shouldering responsibility — for lack of any other federal European institution — for stabilising the euro zone economy and financial system.

EU urges faster yuan rise; China demurs

Paul Taylor
Oct 5, 2010 12:02 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro area policymakers pressed China on Tuesday for a faster appreciation of its currency to help rebalance the world economy but said Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had differed with them.

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, told a news conference after talks with Wen in Brussels: “China’s real effective exchange rate remains undervalued.”

He said the 16-nation European currency area had urged an “orderly, significant and broad-based appreciation” of the yuan.

EU urges faster yuan rise

Paul Taylor
Oct 5, 2010 11:00 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro area policymakers pressed China on Tuesday for a faster appreciation of its currency to help rebalance the world economy but said Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had differed with them.

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, told a news conference after talks with Wen in Brussels: “China’s real effective exchange rate remains undervalued.”

He said the 16-nation European currency area had urged an “orderly, significant and broad-based appreciation” of the yuan.

Analysis: Sarkozy gambles on China in G20 forex drive

Paul Taylor
Oct 4, 2010 13:01 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy is gambling on drawing China into a multilateral dialogue on currency stability as the centerpiece of his forthcoming presidency of the G20 economic leadership forum.

Whether Beijing will agree is unclear. Western officials will be parsing the statements of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on a European tour this week for clues.

Sarkozy has put reforming the international monetary system at the top of his agenda at a time when all the world’s major economies are tempted to let their currencies depreciate in an attempt to rekindle export-led economic growth.

Harsher sanctions won’t solve euro zone’s problems

Paul Taylor
Oct 4, 2010 08:40 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Harsher enforcement of Europe’s much abused budget rules may assuage the bloc’s German paymaster, but it won’t solve the euro zone’s deeper problems.

Euro zone governments face mandatory deposits and fines in future if they breach EU debt and deficit limits under proposals outlined by the European Commission last week, although how automatic the sanctions will be remains to be agreed.

The prospect of sanctions may deter reckless fiscal behaviour and statistical fraud but it could also condemn much of Europe to low growth and widen the economic divide in the currency area, economists warn.

Analysis – Harsher sanctions won’t solve euro zone’s problems

Paul Taylor
Oct 4, 2010 06:12 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Harsher enforcement of Europe’s much abused budget rules may assuage the bloc’s German paymaster, but it won’t solve the euro zone’s deeper problems.

Euro zone governments face mandatory deposits and fines in future if they breach EU debt and deficit limits under proposals outlined by the European Commission last week, although how automatic the sanctions will be remains to be agreed.

The prospect of sanctions may deter reckless fiscal behaviour and statistical fraud but it could also condemn much of Europe to low growth and widen the economic divide in the currency area, economists warn.

  •