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Press review | 22/10/2014

 

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EU Parliament to vote on Commission

The two largest parliamentary groupings, the conservatives and the social democrats, back Juncker's team. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The EU Parliament will vote definitively on the new Commission in Strasbourg today, Wednesday. Everything points to a majority for the team of designated Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The Commission will suffer from the conflict over how to tackle the recession, some commentators predict. Others hope Juncker will provide an answer to the growing populism in Europe.

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Fight against recession could harm Commission

The new European Commission may fall victim to the tug of war over the right measures for countering a recession, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore fears: "Above all the growing lack of sympathy between Germany and France speaks against a productive change of course. ... Nor does the growing rift between the European People's Party and the social democrats, the two major European parties, bode well for the Commission. ... The one party advocates a policy of reform and modernisation, the other is a proponent of a major European investment programme which it believes could create growth and full employment. ... The obvious lack of agreement between the two fronts as regards which course to take - a reflection of the Franco-German disharmony - poses a threat not just to the grand coalition that rules the European Parliament today. It may also push Juncker's new commission into a corner and limit its room for manoeuvre both at the EU level and internationally." (22/10/2014)

Der Standard - Austria

Socially oriented policy is top priority now

In his farewell speech in Strasbourg on Tuesday, the parting EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso warned of the growth of nationalist populism in Europe. Unfortunately in the midst of the economic crisis he was unable to put forward a policy that could oppose that trend, the left-liberal daily Der Standard sighs, pinning its hopes on the new Commission president: "The roots of this populism lie in the social crisis and the despair that millions of young people feel over their prospects. Europe needs to optimise its performance, yes, but above all its policies must be more socially oriented. And someone 'at the top' must set that as a target for the member states. This obligation now falls to Jean-Claude Juncker. Although he tripped up a few times during the hearings with the MEPs, he has more excellent commissioners than any president so far. If he's able to put together a strong centrist team, the people of Europe can hope for a better Union. However should he fail, the scenario doesn't bear thinking about." (22/10/2014)

Dnevnik - Slovenia

Juncker's inspired shuffling of posts

After Alenka Bratušek failed her European Parliament hearings it has been confirmed that the Slovenian Violeta Bulc will be in charge of the transport portfolio while the Slovak Maroš Šefčovič becomes Vice President for the Energy Union. This was a clever move by Juncker, the left-liberal daily Dnevnik writes approvingly: "With a minimal switch of posts between the popular and competent socialist Maroš Šefčovič and the liberal Violeta Bulc following Alenka Bratušek's hearings debacle, Jean-Claude Juncker has achieved two things: he has maintained the structure of his commission and avoided the confirmation of the commission being postponed due to changes in staff. Slovenia's commission odyssey could become a chapter in schoolbooks about what happens when the state fails to work out a proper European strategy." (22/10/2014)

POLITICS

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Duma - Bulgaria

Ukraine should pay its gas debts itself

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to support Kiev financially in its gas dispute with Russia. The pro-Russian daily Duma fails to see why European taxpayers should have to chip in to pay off Kiev's debts: "How is Ms Merkel supposed to explain that they should fork out for a country that refuses to pay even though Russia has always sold it gas at a reduced price? Where are the three billion euros in financial assistance that Ukraine got from the IMF to pay off its gas debts? Apparently they've been spent on the war, and for the cluster bombs that the government dropped over densely populated areas in eastern Ukraine. Merkel isn't making any new friends in Europe by saying everyone must do their bit." (22/10/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Kiev must investigate cluster bomb allegations

The human rights organisation Human Rights Watch accused the Ukrainian government on Tuesday of using cluster bombs against the pro-Russian separatists. Amnesty International has also claimed that both sides committed illegal executions. The Ukrainian government must shed light on the allegations, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: "The Defence Ministry is taking the easy way out with denials along the lines of: That kind of thing would never happen with us because it's forbidden. Its troops were thrown together too hastily, its command structures are too chaotic and the high command is under too much pressure for that to be the case. The fact that the minister of defence has now been replaced for the third time since the Maidan revolution speaks volumes. Ukraine's new leadership wants to demonstrate its moral superiority over Putin's autocratic Russia. But this also requires openness and self-criticism." (22/10/2014)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey

Turkish prosecution makes corruption acceptable

The Turkish prosecution made a fatal decision last Friday when it suspended the proceedings against all 53 suspects in the corruption scandal involving the governing AKP party, the liberal daily Hürriyet Daily News believes: "The leniency that this prosecutor showed to the suspects was quite notable. He accepted that many expensive 'presents' (such as a $700,000 watch!) were given by Reza Zarrab, an oil-rich billionaire, to certain ministers, but argued that this did not prove any bribery. ... This controversial decision not only buried Turkey's most controversial corruption investigation into the dusty archives. It also further destroyed the public's trust in the judicial system. Moreover, this whole drama established an ugly standard for the much-overrated 'New Turkey.' From now on, any corruption investigation against those in power will be easily demonized as yet another 'coup attempt.' What can the practical result of this be, other than making corruption safe and boosting it to higher levels?" (22/10/2014)

Jutarnji List - Croatia

Custody to wear down Bandić's minions

Zagreb's mayor Milan Bandić and 11 other alleged defendants were put on remand for a month on Tuesday on suspicions of corruption. The liberal daily Jutarnji List has its doubts that this old tactic for turning the defendants into witnesses will work out this time: "The national anti-corruption authority Uskok is hoping that the shock of being behind bars for thirty days will cause some of the defendants to break down and turn on the others in an attempt to save themselves. Or that they will cooperate with the prosecutors to secure a milder sentence. ... However the mayor of Zagreb has extremely good ties to his closest colleagues. They are devoted to him, loyal, and even in the most difficult situations none of them have ever betrayed him. But without informers Uskok will have a hard time gathering enough evidence for a trial." (22/10/2014)

Magyar Hírlap - Hungary

No mercy for Hungary's corrupt politicians

The US has banned six top Hungarian officials from entering the country, accusing them of having tried to corrupt US companies active in Hungary. The conservative daily Magyar Hírlap demands that they should be called to account without delay if the accusations prove true: "If members of the Hungarian government, regardless of their rank, committed the described acts then they must be immediately removed from their posts. What's more they must be put under investigation and charged with corruption, abuse of power and treason. And then they must be put behind bars for a very long time. ... If all this is true they must be punished without mercy. For those who do such things there can be no mercy." (21/10/2014)

Super Express - Poland

Sikorski must resign as marshal of the Sejm

The speaker, or marshal, of the Polish parliament, Radosław Sikorski, on Tuesday refused journalists' calls for him to comment on a report by US web portal Politico. The report cites Sikorski as having said during his time as foreign minister that Russia had called on Poland to join forces with it to seize Ukraine: The conservative tabloid Super Express calls for Sikorski's immediate resignation: "What he has done compromises his official post. ... If he doesn't resign, Prime Minister Eva Kopacz will be forced to apologise for him frequently in the future. And not just for the way he treated the journalists. In the past the post of foreign minister, which requires diplomatic skill, steered his conduct. Now that he's the marshal of the Sejm he has no such restraints." (22/10/2014)

ECONOMY

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Blog EUROPP - United Kingdom

Public investment good for Eurozone

Only a major increase in public investments in infrastructure and social welfare can revive the ailing economy of the Eurozone, political scientist Robert Hancké writes in the blog EUROPP of the London School of Economics: "Public investment can easily be paid for through new government bonds; in fact, much of the Eurozone can borrow at extremely low, almost negative real interest rates. And, since such investments have positive effects now by boosting demand, and later by raising the sustainable growth rate, they pay for themselves. They might be slightly inflationary, sure - excellent news, with an inflation rate stuck far below what is considered the neutral 2 per cent rate. And they may raise the incomes of poor people - even better, as they spend more of the income boost than wealthier people, thus multiplying the effect of the initial boost throughout the rest of the economy." (21/10/2014)

Libération - France

Total boss was a unique business leader

The CEO of French oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie, died on Monday night at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport when his private jet crashed into a snow plough. The left-liberal daily Libération praises de Margerie as an old-school type boss: "France, which has no particular love for its bosses and often for good reason, is truly bereaved at the death of Christophe de Margerie. ... This powerful boss had a clear idea of what that role comprises. He held himself accountable to his shareholders and distributed generous dividends in the process. He also sought compromises with his employees, took their interests into account along with his own, and was always willing to negotiate. Although rich, he saw his business not just as a money machine but as a social institution. His colleagues from the companies at the CAC 40 [stock market index] companies would do well to take inspiration from him." (22/10/2014)

Dienas Bizness - Latvia

Latvia needs alternative for transit trade

In the plans for its transportation strategy for the period until 2030 Russia is considering discontinuing oil transportation via the Baltic states and using only Russian ports instead. For many decades Lativa's ice-free ports have been an important trade hub for Russia. The business paper Dienas Bizness criticises Latvia's inactive politicians: "The Transport Ministry and the oil transport sector have nothing that could serve as a replacement if the oil passing through Latvia's ports decreases. According to the Russian plans this is going to happen sooner or later, and we have no means of influencing our neighbour's strategic decisions. The Latvian transport minister's statements that everything possible must be done to prevent the transit trade from ceasing are no consolation. ... In reality the situation is very different. The Latvian transport corridor is not as attractive as some politicians think. And if the politicians don't take action soon the hundred million euros invested in the rail and port infrastructure will have been in vain." (22/10/2014)

SOCIETY

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Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Denmark must not be too critical of Turkey

A Dane of Lebanese origin who had been in custody in Turkey since April has been released. He was suspected of the attempted murder of Danish Islam critic Lars Hedegaard. Rumours are circulating in Denmark that Ankara released him in an exchange of prisoners agreed on with the Islamist terrorist militia IS. The liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten urges caution: "The last few years have seen a return to realpolitik. ... This is cynical, brutal and often unjust. ... A Turkey that is not allied with Europe is more dangerous than a Turkey that is on Europe's side. Therefore Denmark must react in a way that shows its displeasure but doesn't isolate Denmark within the EU. ... When the microphones are switched on we must stand by Turkey as a difficult partner in a strategically important situation. Because all in all this is best for everyone." (22/10/2014)

Irish Independent - Ireland

Ireland must not leave renters in the lurch

The draft budget for 2015 presented by the Irish government last week foresees no rise in the rent supplement for the needy. Given that rents in Dublin rose at least ten percent on average last year, the conservative daily brands this as unsocial: "Let us be crystal clear on this: The Government has the power to prevent more people becoming homeless. They must raise rent supplement to match market rents. They failed to do that in the Budget and more families have already become homeless. ... If our Government tells people who can't afford a home (and no social housing is available) that they must go to the private rented market, it must ensure it is possible to obtain a secure and long-term home. It cannot stand over a system that leaves many at the lower end of the market at the mercy of rising rents with no security." (21/10/2014)

Le Quotidien - Luxembourg

Social egg freezing is anti-social

The US companies Apple and Facebook use so-called social egg freezing to allow female employees to dedicate themselves to their careers before they have children. The liberal daily Le Quotidien sees no advantages: "First of all it's very expensive. Couldn't these companies put the money into daycare facilities instead? And as far as the frozen eggs are concerned there's a two-fold risk. Even if science progresses and late pregnancies become the norm, freezing eggs doesn't guarantee the success of pregnancies at an advanced age. In addition, with this system the employer may punish employees if they choose not to have their pregnancies at an 'opportune' moment - that is as late as possible." (21/10/2014)

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