Navigation

 

Press review | 27/02/2015

 

MAIN FOCUS

  » open

Paris given more time to economise

Finance Minister Michel Sapin (left) and Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron must work out the planned reforms by April. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The EU Commission on Wednesday reached its decision on the budgets of the member states. France will have until 2017 to deal with its problems, but still faces deficit proceedins, while Italy and Belgium have avoided such proceedings. Finally the EU has distanced itself from the strict austerity policy, some commentators write in approval. Others criticise Europe for double standards regarding crisis states.

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Draghi sabotages stability pact

Once again the terms of the stability pact have been overtaken by the reality of the situation, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant laments: "It is not the member states but Mario Draghi, the president of the ECB, who deserves credit for the fact that the euro is no longer unstable. ... In principle, however, Draghi is working against the stability pact. It was supposed to keep inflation low and the euro strong. But Draghi wants to boost inflation and weaken the euro to stimulate exports. And to that end, the ECB is even willing to purchase government debt. Now interest rates are so low that the states would be silly not to take out new loans. There is no incentive whatsoever to save. As long as the ECB pursues this policy, any disciplinary measures must come from politicians. They, however, have demonstrated again and again that this is simply beyond them. And so the stability pact is nothing but a farce." (27/02/2015)

Le Soir - Belgium

Europe yields to Paris yet again

The European partners have not been as stringent with France as they have with other euro crisis states, the liberal daily Le Soir writes and explains why: "An important member state - or one located at the 'heart of Europe' - carries more weight than a small or 'peripheral' country. Furthermore the situation is exacerbated by the threat posed by the Front National. If the French governments (conservatives and Socialists alike) have continually put off painful measures, it's to avoid provoking either popular protests or potential supporters of the FN. And these dangers also explain why France's European partners (the EU Commission, Germany, etc.) always end up yielding. It makes you want to give Churchill's phrase a new twist: by not making the choice between reforms and the FN, France will have both reforms and the FN. And as for Europe, it has once again reinforced the unpleasant truth that it measures countries with different yardsticks." (27/02/2015)

Handelsblatt - Germany

Political pressure better than fines

The French Finance Minister Michel Sapin is to present plans for new austerity measures and reforms to the Euro Group in May. If he doesn't his colleagues in other euro states will crank up the pressure, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt predicts: "Sapin really doesn't have that many allies left in the Euro Group. Spain and Portugal have hurried ahead and even Italy is tackling its long overdue reforms with more courage than France. ... According to the Stability Pact France would have certainly had to pay the fine by now. But on this point the pact is really unrealistic. It doesn't make sense to weaken a country that is already struggling financially even more with a fine. ... The Eurozone has no choice but to maintain the pressure on the government in Paris and wade through many more laborious discussions with the French minister of finance." (27/02/2015)

La Stampa - Italy

Sensible reinterpretation of rigid rules

Finally the EU has stopped stubbornly insisting on the austerity policy, the liberal daily La Stampa writes commenting on the EU Commission's decision: "The ruling on our economic policy confirms that things are taking a positive turn in the Eurozone. Instead of blindly clinging to a schematic and counter-productive fiscal discipline, the country is being called on to reform. Under the original rules of the Fiscal Compact that was passed amidst fears of a debt crisis Italy would have failed - on the false grounds that its austerity policy wasn't stringent enough. Thanks to the new interpretation of the Stability Pact as revised by Jean-Claude Juncker and his colleagues during Italy's EU Council presidency we have been granted a reprieve - whereby the right has been reserved to reprimand the country in a sensible way." (27/02/2015)

POLITICS

  » open
taz - Germany

Yes to help for Greece is more a no

The German Bundestag votes on the bailout extension for Greece today. The measure is expected to be passed with a broad majority. But this time too Athens is not being given the chance for true structural reform, the left-wing daily taz complains: "Within just a few months Greece will be in trouble again. How is a government supposed to develop a plan for fighting corruption and poverty and boosting investments in such a short time and on top of that pay back old loans on time? This won't be possible. ... You don't have to like Syriza but the new government in Athens represents a major opportunity. After decades of mismanagement it could help to finally break up the criminal clientele system and at least establish traditional capitalist structures in south-eastern Europe. But what does Europe do? What does the Bundestag do? They're throwing away this opportunity. Their yes to loans is really a no to a Greece with a European perspective." (27/02/2015)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

Mariupol will decide over war or peace

In a hearing before the US Senate on Thursday, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned of the possibility of an attack on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in the spring. It's there that the Minsk peace agreement will really prove its worth, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny believes: "As things look now the ceasefire no longer only exists on paper. For the second day in a row not a single soldier has been killed. And the Ukrainian army has also started to withdraw its heavy weapons, in accordance with the Minsk agreement. ... Less promising, however, is the statement by the head of the 'Donetsk People's Republic' that Mariupol on the Sea of Azov belongs to the separatists' territory. Mariupol will be the test of whether the ceasefire can be called the first step to peace or just a pause in the fighting." (27/02/2015)

România Liberă - Romania

Merkel can't protect Romania from Putin

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday in Berlin. The daily România Liberă fears that Iohannis plans to strengthen relations with Berlin to the detriment of the current Bucharest-London-Washington axis: "The sole political axis in which Romania can be sure Russia will not exert its influence is the one connecting us with London and Washington. Berlin, by contrast, still wants to believe that it can engage in rational discussion with Putin. ... Germany is fooling itself with the naivety of an actor who hasn't played a leading role in a long time. The world as Russia is fashioning it is one marked by confrontation between the major powers and the battle for spheres of influence. It is a world of power relations, and power is expressed through the army. Germany, however, has no military power, and consequently no power to negotiate. It's an easy country to ignore." (26/02/2015)

REFLECTIONS

  » open
The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

David Abulafia on the myth of a united Europe

There is no real need to press on with European integration, historian David Abulafia warns in the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph, evoking present and past obstacles to deepening EU relations: "The events of the last few months have exposed serious shortcomings in the idea of a European demos. The current unwillingness of German creditors and Greek debtors to see eye to eye exposes the lack of solidarity at the heart of Europe. Far from making integration inevitable, the decisions of European leaders have pulled Europeans further apart. It is time to admit that a sense of 'Europeanness' cannot be traced far back in time. Europe is not one myth but many myths, myths rooted in an idealisation of the classical past and in fantasies about figures such as Charlemagne. Attempts to create an artificial notion of 'Europe' distract from the reality of the situation and make it harder to rectify the many problems that exist within the EU's institutions." (26/02/2015)

ECONOMY

  » open
Imerisia - Greece

Greek entrepreneurs need clarity

The German Bundestag votes on the extension of the bailout payments for Greece today, Friday. The liberal business paper Imerisia describes the mood in Greece's business community and stresses that it is waiting for a clear message from the government: "For months the companies and the entire economy have been held hostage by political instability. Everything has been put on ice. After reaching the agreement with the creditors one would have expected the government to explain what policies and measures it will introduce. Particularly on the key issues [taxation, business loans, privatisations] which, as the government officials say, are not an issue in the negotiations with the creditors. ... However the repeated statements of the ministers are only making things more complicated. They keep repeating generalities without giving any details about the solutions they propose." (26/02/2015)

Le Quotidien - Luxembourg

Luxembourg's image as a passive jihad accomplice

France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced last week on a visit to US Internet companies that he wants to do more to counter the recruitment of jihadists on the Internet and in social networks. The fact that the companies - which have little interest in cooperating with security agencies - have their European headquarters in Luxembourg is cause for concern for the left-liberal daily Le Quotidien: "Clouds are forming over Luxembourg, to the point that it is being cast as a passive accomplice of jihadist organisations. And regardless of whether there's any truth in that, the harm such rumours cause is real enough. The government is investing huge sums in 'national branding' to polish up its image. But it seems that such communication - that is, the art of embellishing truth - is insufficient. The cover-ups and fiscal intransparency in the country only reinforce the distrust, even if it's entirely unfounded. Perhaps it's time to turn a new leaf - that of transparency and tax loyalty vis-à-vis our own partners." (26/02/2015)

CULTURE

  » open
Diário de Notícias - Portugal

IS marking its territory with destruction of art

A video published by the IS on Thursday shows how the terrorists have destroyed priceless artefacts in the city of Mosul in Iraq. A foul deed with which the extremists yet again aimed to demonstrate their power, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias comments appalled: "They wanted to show that they can do whatever they want - and no one can stop them. The images from Mosul don't require any adjectives, they are enough to provoke all manner of outrage. But worse than looking at the pictures is to stick through watching the YouTube video for five minutes in silence. This destruction of ancient works of art is another piece of propaganda in their terrorist campaign. With each gesture they want to show us that these works have been destroyed and lost forever and that the past no longer exists, that it simply has no value any more." (27/02/2015)

SOCIETY

  » open
Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Denmark finally acting against anti-Semitism

Denmark took anti-Semitism all too lightly before the attacks in Copenhagen in which a Jewish security guard was killed, the liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten believes: "Where was the debate when Jewish children had to go to school under police protection? Where were the protests against a mayor of Copenhagen who called on Jews not to wear Jewish symbols at a multicultural festival? There was a strange, unbearable lightness about the reactions to public anti-Semitic incidents - until the most recent terrorist attacks in Copenhagen. Since then, official Denmark has flooded the small Jewish community with condolences. The prime minister led the way with urgent, necessary and strong words, followed by society as a whole. We are all responsible for the well-being of the Jews in Denmark. Now most people seem to have understood that. It was high time too." (27/02/2015)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Clearing Roma camps won't solve any problems

Local politicians in several Swedish cities want to crack down on illegal Roma camps. Last year alone 27 new camps sprang up, conservative local politician Anna König Jerlmyr said on Tuesday and along with colleagues from Göteborg called for quicker evictions. This won't make the problem go away, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten argues: "To simply drive beggars out of their makeshift dwellings only shifts the homeless elsewhere. Rather than solving the problems it only reinforces them. If we really don't want these barrack settlements we need to provide alternatives. Construction trailers, camping sites, youth hostels - there are many options. If Göteborg provides basic overnight accommodation we can ban camps with a clean conscience and prevent them from turning into permanent slums." (27/02/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Put Estonian women in parliament

In the World Economic Forum's 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, Estonia ranked 64th overall and 88th in the political category. This prompts political scientist Alo Raun to call on the population to give more votes to women in the upcoming parliamentary elections on March 1. "The key point here is the message it sends to society: women in power are no longer a taboo subject. If parliament sets an example it could lead to women being promoted in companies and encourage young women to be more ambitious in their choice of career. ... Quotas and women at the top of the parties' lists of candidates are a way to accelerate this trend. But it has barely been made use of so far. That's why the voters themselves can make the biggest contribution to gender equality - by voting for women." (26/02/2015)

Karjalainen - Finland

Not the time to replace Swedish with Russian

The cultural committee of the Finnish parliament on Wednesday rejected a petition calling for the abolishment of mandatory Swedish lessons in schools. That should also put an end to calls in the east of the country - where Russian tourists were in the habit of spending large sums of money until the fall in value of the rouble - to have Swedish replaced by Russian. Stepping up Russian-language instruction would also be wrong in view of the Ukraine crisis, the liberal daily Karjalainen concurs: "If this were only about the exchange rate, sooner or later things would get back to normal. Now, however, it is a matter of global politics and there is no silver lining to the clouds overhead. The time when we could have abolished Swedish classes and replaced them at least in part with Russian has ended quicker than expected. Even a partial switch would enhance Russia's image, and the country would not fail to ruthlessly exploit this. Meanwhile Finland's image would suffer." (27/02/2015)

Other content