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Delo - Slovenia | 19/12/2014

Juncker's investment plan very hazy

The EU's heads of government approved European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's investment programme at their summit on Thursday. The left-liberal daily Delo is very dubious about the plan: "Jean-Claude Juncker, who has been struggling with the 'Lux leaks' affair ever since he took office, put this investment programme together in a rush. Not only is it uncertain how the scheme is supposed to work in practice, it's also unclear how much financial alchemy is needed to turn the 21 billion euros in EU capital into the desired 315 billion euros in investments. Moreover the EU member states haven't reached a consensus on what exactly should be financed. They've sent Brussels a list of all different kinds of projects for which they don't have enough money. But Juncker's goals and the profitability of these projects were of secondary importance." (19/12/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden | 19/12/2014

Finally a debate about immigration in Sweden

With an eye to the new elections slated for next March in Sweden the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Göran Hägglund, has called for changes in the country's immigration policy. He wants the introduction of fixed-term residency permits and quicker processing of asylum applications. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter hopes this will trigger a long overdue debate on a sensitive topic: "Unsurprisingly one of the first reactions was talk of a flirt with the [right-wing populist] Sweden Democrats. ... But whatever Hägglund's critics may say, the main problem with Sweden's immigration policy is not what is said or how. Rather it's all the things that are not said and not done. The integration debate needs impetus and participants. In future the focus should be on concrete policies rather than labels." (19/12/2014)

Le Jeudi - Luxembourg | 18/12/2014

CIA methods destroy democracy

The CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques in the fight against terror are not only inefficient but also hurt our democracies, the left-liberal weekly magazine le Jeudi warns: "Everything that constitutes the vitality of our democracies has been flouted in the name of a political fight over values: human rights instead of religious obscurantism. Waging this war at all costs is disastrous because it undermines the very foundations of our society. Nevertheless it is to be feared that nothing will change in this regard. The Obama administration is holding to the course set by Bush. The jail in Guantánamo where 136 prisoners are languishing continues in operation despite the president's promises, and, according to [French newspaper] Libération, the 'targeted' attacks carried out by drones result in an average of 28 unidentified victims per strike. Have we got to the stage where it is simply naive to believe in democracy and its values?" (18/12/2014)

Le Monde - France | 19/12/2014

Internet and Western Union better than embago

Obama's decision to end the frozen relations between Cuba and the US after more than 50 years is historic, the left-liberal daily Le Monde believes: "The White House's initiative replaces the strategy aimed at a change of regime with the more subtle one of supporting civil society and the forces of change within the population. This policy which has proved its worth under other communist regimes will rely notably on American IT companies. Because one important aspect of the measures announced by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro involves these firms being allowed to start operating in Cuba. And once it's lost its best enemy, the Castro government will see that the Internet and Western Union are far more powerful weapons than all the embargoes in the world." (19/12/2014)

Pohjalainen - Finland | 19/12/2014

Cubans want change

The change of course in the US's Cuba policy is a step in the right direction in the eyes of the liberal daily Pohjalainen: "The US knows how difficult it is to export democracy. It's always a lengthy process. But the chances of achieving this goal are highest when there is a strong desire for democracy and civil rights. In Cuba the desire for democracy is without doubt very strong. Fidel and the communist ideology no longer enjoy the support they would need to prevent the full opening of the country. Obama's and Castro's initiative is a step in the right direction. There are no sensible alternatives. The main thing now is to put Cuba on the right course. It won't be able to do it on its own." (19/12/2014)

Proto Thema - Greece | 18/12/2014

Samaras government living in a dream world

Greece's early presidential elections failed in their first round on Wednesday. The candidate of the governing coalition, former EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas, received just 160 of the 300 votes in parliament - falling far short of the required 200. For the liberal weekly paper Proto Thema it's clear the government no longer has sufficient backing: "The result makes it glaringly obvious: the government is living in a world of its own and believes the fairy tale of its success story. ... These politicians actually believe that they're successful! That the country can't survive without them! That they've saved us! They really do believe it, while at the same time telling us that we're facing huge risks that threaten the country with destruction and devastation. ... It all goes to show just how sick our power system is: not only is it unable to help the country, it can't even save itself." (18/12/2014)

Deutschlandfunk - Germany | 17/12/2014

Palestine and Israel must do their bit

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to recognise an independent Palestinian state but only if the peace talks between Palestine and Israel are resumed. Several national European parliaments have already recognised Palestine's statehood. The resolution correctly formulates what both sides need to contribute, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk comments: "It could have been detrimental if the EU Parliament had recognised Palestine without stipulating any conditions. A Palestine partly governed by Hamas, a group which has enshrined the annihilation of the state of Israel in its statutes. ... What is right and important is that it stresses both Israel's right to exist and its duty to refrain from measures that could torpedo the goal of enduring and sustainable peace, so unforeseeable at this point in time. Measures such as the unbridled construction of new settlements." (17/12/2014)

Newsweek Polska - Poland | 18/12/2014

Poroshenko raises Poland's status as mediator

Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko travelled to Poland on a state visit on Wednesday. His visit raises Poland's status as a mediator in neighbouring Ukraine's conflict, the news magazine Newsweek Polska comments with satisfaction: "Poland was the European country that most supported the revolution in Ukraine. But after the revolution's success Kiev appeared to forget this somewhat. Of course it repeatedly expressed gratitude and assurances that the two countries are friends. But when it came to finding international mediators for solving the conflict with the Russian separatists and Russia, no one turned to Warsaw for help. ... By visiting Poland, a Ukrainian politician has taken an important step in this direction. He expects to find a major ally here. For Poland this is the opportunity to return to the forefront of the European coalition that supports Ukraine." (18/12/2014)

Die Presse - Austria | 18/12/2014

Recognising Palestine won't lead to peace

The EU Parliament voted by a majority in favour of recognising the state of Palestine "in principle" on Wednesday. However it stipulated new peace negotiations as a precondition. The conservative daily Die Presse sees the resolution as useless. "The watered-down text, the bland result of a compromise between two opposing positions, can be interpreted at will. ... It has zero impact in practical terms. A Palestinian state won't become a reality through pathetic resolutions but through tough compromises on where the borders lie and on the exchange of territory, the dismantling of settlements, the return of Palestinian refugees and a peace agreement. Only the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves can make peace with each other. No one else can do it for them, not even the most well-meaning Europeans." (18/12/2014)

Deutsche Welle - Romania | 18/12/2014

Floor-crossing ban for local politicians is apt

The Romanian Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that an emergency decree issued by the Ponta government in August was anti-constitutional. The decree allowed local politicians 45 days to switch parties without losing their mandate, as the law stipulates they should. The Romanian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle welcomes the ruling: "This is good news because now it will no longer be possible to make light of existing laws like this. The Constitutional Court has put an end to a practice that's as foolish as it is unfitting for a democracy. But what repercussions will this have? Will the mayors who switched parties now lose their posts? Hardly: the ruling isn't retroactive. That seems unfair to those who behaved with integrity and didn't change parties. Once again, maverick politics seems to have won out in Romania." (18/12/2014)

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