For Richard Werly, the stakes are high for François Hollande in Euro 2016. The columnist for Le Temps argues “a good performance by the French team would give a considerable boost to the current occupant of the Elysée Palace, whose major fault is having no ‘narrative’ to offer the electorate.” And for the country too:


Continually shaken by serious social aggravation, France will be the laughing stock of the world if the strikes end up disrupting the competition, enraging the millions of spectators expected to arrive. The divided country desperately needs a ceasefire and a moment of consensus. What better remedy than football, a sport of the masses and a social phenomenon, to stitch together the wounds of a country exhausted by the lack of social dialogue?

Fuel shortages, barricades in the streets, strikes, a fear of terrorist attacks and now flooding… “Few people are looking forward to Euro 2016”, argues Rudolf Balmer, a columnist for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. But, he adds, France has only itself to blame for this crisis:

Politicians in Paris are entirely responsible for the problems bringing them to the brink. The way they have put themselves into this mess is a textbook example of mishandling, which – if viewed from afar – seems entirely unbelievable. They could not have been more clumsy in demonstrating how any serious attempt to liberalise the country’s economy brings it to the edge of revolution.

Gazeta Wyborcza examines the arrest of French citizen Grégoire M. at the Polish-Ukrainian border, whose widespread media coverage is symptomatic of the hysteria in the build-up to football’s big event. “Despite the reservations of France’s intelligence services regarding this 25-year old man, it will be a championship under a state of emergency – declared after the November attacks.” Columnist Michał Szadkowski observes that since the reinforcement of the Vigipirate anti-terror security programme –


17,500 people have been turned back at French borders, 3,500 flats have been searched, 56 individuals arrested for on terrorism charges and 69 suspects given house arrest. Were these terrorists planning attacks during the championship? At any rate, when France hosted the World Cup in 1998, security services dismantled at the very last moment a cell preparing attacks.

It is not easy to negotiate with a revolver pressed to your head,” Massimo Nava notes in the venerable Italian daily Corriere della Sera. For the former Paris correspondent, it is, however,


the situation that President Hollande and the Socialist government have now brought about, outmanoeuvred by the CGT, a Communist-inspired trade union, which has been paralysing the country on the eve of Euro 2016. Strikes in public transport, street demonstrations, blockades of refineries and nuclear power stations have been going on now for weeks, and the deadlock could continue for the whole tournament, up to the final. France, which lost its Olympic Games bid to the London, has played big on a sporting jamboree to boost its tourism, in decline since the November attacks, and to project to the world a new image of a strong, effective country, famous for the quality of its infrastructure and services. And at the same time, the blockades and demonstrations are poisoning the atmosphere, increasing the risk of provocation and pushing anti-terrorist programmes to their limit. [...] It is also why, on the eve of the UK referendum, the French impasse is not good news for Europe.

Columnist José Sorolla, writing for the Barcelona daily El Periódico, evokes the European football championship as taking place over the next few weeks in a France “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” and “with stifling social tension.” In this context, Euro 2016 –


represents both the most serious threat but also the greatest opportunity. Nothing unites the French more than the idea of the nation. And the nation, from Friday, is represented by the national team, whose success or failure in the championship may determine – even if this seems surprising – the fate of most of the country’s current conflicts. [...] If ‘les Bleus’ fail to win, the current sense of gloom will worsen, but if they win, the patriotic and nationalistic surge will be of historic proportions. But that too will be a mirage, since France’s problems – which many believe to be unsolvable – will still be there.

With a few days before Euro 2016, the labour law reforms are “profoundly dividing France”, the Tageszeitung argues. The German daily asks whether –


an international sporting event, attracting thousands of visitors and costing millions of euros should be used as a means of political pressure? Why not, the CGT – with its 600,000 members – replied. For the CGT, it is the very core interest of its members that is at stake in this battle, as well as its own credibility. And in any case, it is the opposing side that began this match between bad players, filled with accusations of foul play and all without a referee. It is those not taking part in the struggle who are bearing the costs. For a week they have been unable to get to work because of transport disruptions. And, from Friday, another week of strikes and disruption is set to go ahead, exactly at the start of Euro 2016.