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Press review | 20/01/2016



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Macedonia urged to protect EU external borders

Refugees on the Greek-Macedonian border. According to the UNHCR around 30,000 migrants have arrived in Greece so far in 2016. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


In view of the consistently high number of refugees who arrive in Europe via the Balkan route, EU politicians are calling on Macedonia to play a more active role in border control. At last effective border protection is becoming a reality, some commentators write in delight. Others find it absurd that a non-EU member is supposed to provide the solution to the refugee crisis.

Jutarnji list - Croatia

Greece is the main problem

The EU has failed completely in the refugee crisis and is becoming more and more absurd, the liberal daily Jutarnji list comments: "The biggest embarrassment is the miserable failed distribution of refugees among EU member states. The figure of 160,000 was agreed on but so far 300 have been redistributed. And the deal with Turkey is also failing to produce results. … The latest demand that Macedonia should better protect its border with Greece shows how hopeless the EU's situation is. A non-EU member is supposed to protect the Union from the wave of refugees coming from Greece, an EU country which to top it all is also a Schengen zone member. This shows that the EU simply doesn't want to accept that Greece is the biggest problem. The EU's powerlessness is the result of a lack of political will that is leading to more and more individual national measures which are jeopardising EU unity and the freedom to travel in Europe." (20/01/2016)

Nézőpontok - Hungary

EU must finally come to its senses

The EU must realise that it can only get a grip on the refugee crisis by protecting its external borders, political scientist Nándor Gömbicz writes on the blog of the pro-government political research institute Nézőpont: "The Hungarian government has been calling for the protection of the EU's external border since the start of the refugee crisis. ... One thing is certain: bearing in mind the actual circumstances and the political reality, border protection will sooner or later come into effect: that is the expectation not the least of the people of Europe, who see their security on the one hand and their social and cultural mores on the other in danger. ... As much as the refugee crisis demands a complex solution, Europe must finally realise that without the protection of its outer borders it will never have an effective one." (19/01/2016)

Die Welt - Germany

Closed borders achieve nothing

A growing number of voices in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party and its sister party the CSU are calling for Germany to close its borders. But that would be wrong, the conservative daily Die Welt argues: "Even that would not secure our comfortable lives in the long run. The Mediterranean would become a huge cemetery, Greece would soon be a failing state and Italy would quickly become unstable once again. It is significant that those calling for closed borders haven't done anything to help Germany better cope with the refugee problem. ... All those who fail to view the refugee problem as a matter that concerns all of Europe are only lying to their public. And they refuse to accept that this continent - which now has a successful political form after so many religious wars and terrors - is predestined to be able to cope with immigrants precisely because it has shown that it can establish rules while maintaining diversity." (20/01/2016)


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Polityka - Poland

Row with Poland symbolic of the EU crisis

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said on Tuesday in the European Parliament that neither the restructuring of the Constitutional Tribunal nor the new media law contravened European regulations. The conflict between Poland and the EU reflects the division of the entire continent, the centre-left news magazine Polityka writes: "Today this line of conflict runs between the pro- and anti-Europeans. In the pro-European camp are the Christian democrats, liberals and social democrats, while the anti-Europeans include nationalists, populists and anti-liberals. Until now Poland has clearly belonged to the pro-European camp. But under the leadership of the PiS it is now crossing over to the camp of the EU opponents and striking out on the same path as Hungary under Prime Minister Orbán." (20/01/2016)

De Standaard - Belgium

Where is Donald Tusk?

In the EU's current crisis the President of the European Council Donald Tusk must lead the way, the liberal daily De Standaard stresses: "In the EU's current difficult situation we can and must expect more from the leaders than that they simply keep on repeating how serious the situation is. They must increase the sense of urgency in every capital and unite the camps. … Today's Europe is a chaotic heap; a cacophony of voices. Everyone urgently wants a solution but no one is willing to bear all the consequences. Europe as a solidarity-based union that masters one crisis after another because in the end the will to stay together is stronger than the quarrelling? This Europe is struggling painfully. Someone must point the way and remind Europe's leaders of their responsibilities. And that someone's name is Donald Tusk." (20/01/2016)

Le Monde - France

Hollande's education campaign the right course

French President François Hollande has come under fire for plans to fight unemployment with educational measures for 500,000 job seekers. For Yves Barou, chairman of the country's association for adult education, such criticism is the result of a typically French problem: "Everyone relies on education for himself and for his children! And many companies can't find people with the skills they need! ... Refusing those in difficulties the right to education is a form of French elitism based on disdain for implementation tasks and the rejection of professional careers for non-management staff.  … France's competitiveness depends on its ability to innovate in digital technology and the energy transition. For that we need entrepreneurs and engineers, but also specially trained technicians and experts." (19/01/2016)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Renzi's impudence a tactical manoeuvre

The tone has grown harsher in the dispute between Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker over budget deficit limits. Renzi has now accused the EU of trying to take control of Italy. But there's a strategy behind his vocal criticism, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger points out: "This is what wrangling looks like in Europe. Normally the whole process is very civilised, particularly among the major states. Matteo Renzi, however, clearly has different intentions this time in brashly picking a fight with Brussels (and also with Berlin). Particularly now that Germany is preoccupied with its own affairs. The crescendo is a race he can't lose no matter how much he is criticised for it in Italy. In Brussels (and in Berlin) no one can seriously be interested in seeing the reformer from Italy and the only passionate European among its leaders fail. Even if he does hit the wrong note every now and then." (20/01/2016)


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Delfi - Lithuania

Vladimiras Laučius on the failure of European liberal democracy

After attacks by migrants on women in Germany and Sweden, the right-wing conservative columnist Vladimiras Laučius predicts the end of liberal democracy in Europe on the online portal Delfi: "The events in Germany and Sweden are a disgrace for the West's entire policy - both on the right and on the left. It looks very much as if there is no longer either a true right that seeks to defend its culture from the barbarians or a true left that believes in social justice and not just Afghan mores. ... Liberal democracy - the political formula of our ruling class, as [Italian political scientist] Gaetano Mosca would say - is in crisis because it has become uninteresting for apolitical citizens. And the political class is veering in the direction of the one extreme, left-liberalism, synonymous with so-called political correctness. This, however, is not and can never be an authentic political formula for Western civilisation. It can only be a political aberration - like the behaviour of the police in Cologne, the lies of the media in Sweden and Germany, and the hypocrisy of the EU politicians." (20/01/2016)


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The Irish Times - Ireland

Consumers shouldn't rejoice at low oil prices

The surplus of oil on global markets could last at least until the middle of 2016, the International Energy Agency announced on Tuesday. The resulting drop in oil prices puts climate targets at risk, the centre-left daily The Irish Times warns: "The current glut in oil supply, although welcome to consumers, is not unqualified good news. Low oil prices have made it harder to reduce carbon emissions at the time when global leaders have committed themselves to that goal. Energy conservation measures and the development of cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels have become less financially compelling options. Nevertheless, the financial benefits of cheaper oil should be seen by consumers as a temporary windfall gain rather than a permanent change." (20/01/2016)

Savon Sanomat - Finland

EU stabs Kiev in the back with Nord Stream 2

A row has broken out over the plans for the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2, which is to run from Russia to Germany and supply the same amount of gas again as Nord Stream 1. Polish President Andrzej Duda had recently criticised the pipeline, calling it a political project. The liberal daily Savon Sanomat agrees: "Looking back, both Nord Stream 1 and the planned Nord Stream 2 pipelines have become huge political projects. With the addition of two new pipelines stretching across 1,200 kilometres their transport capacity will increase to such an extent that Russia will be able to stop transporting gas via Ukraine. The EU countries can justly be accused of not taking their support for Ukraine and for the economic sanctions against Russia seriously. The EU can't prevent a private project, it argues. But should it be able to? Perhaps yes." (20/01/2016)


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Delo - Slovenia

Boost justice, prevent war

The yawning gap between the rich and poor must be closed, writes the centre-left daily Delo in reaction to the latest Oxfam report on inequality: "History teaches us that increasing inequality and economic insecurity undermine the social order and lead to radical reactions - both from the left and the right. It should be a warning to us that until now above all wars, revolutions and economic depression have re-established a greater balance of wealth among people in the past. To avoid such a scenario global changes of extreme proportions are needed. These changes would ensure more equality between the individual social castes, classes, genders and races." (20/01/2016)

El País - Spain

Volunteer's death weakens trust in drug testing

In the French city of Rennes a man who had volunteered for a drug trial died after taking the pain-relief medication on Sunday, while other volunteers have been left with permanent brain damage. The case must be thoroughly investigated to prevent a major loss of trust in these necessary test procedures, the centre-left daily El País stresses: "What needs to be clarified now is whether this was an unexpected side-effect related to dose or whether the batch administered to the volunteers had somehow undergone alterations. Right now the case is the subject of medical and legal investigations. But in any case it is vital that the investigations be carried out with maximum transparency to ascertain whether negligence was the cause or whether this was an inevitable accident. Because public trust in clinical trials depends on it, and we can't afford to lose that trust." (20/01/2016)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Surreal debate about gay marriage in Italy

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi wants to put a draft law on legal recognition for same-sex partnerships which was introduced in parliament months ago to the vote in the next few days. The debate has become surreal, the liberal conservative daily Corriere della Sera comments acerbically: "It's all about one word: marriage. And woe betide anyone who complains about it. In this way language has become the last bastion against the law. Any mention of marriage is forbidden in the new law on recognition of homosexual partnerships. And it's definitely out of the question to give the partners the same rights as married couples enjoy. That would be unconstitutional, immoral and in fact nothing short of criminal. But if all parallels with marriage are taboo, what exactly is the law supposed to refer to? The funeral? In terms of clarity the 23 clauses of the law don't exactly seem to have been penned by a Tacitus; instead they come across as a linguistic balancing act." (20/01/2016)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Mandatory English classes for migrant women a good idea

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to make English courses for migrant women mandatory and if they fail the test after two and a half years they would face deportation. The centre-left daily The Independent finds the public outcry in response to Cameron's plan incomprehensible: "Being able to speak the language of the country in which you inhabit is a basic principle and expectation: not only is it a show of respect to the society in which you have settled, but it allows you to fully integrate yourself into said society, and further contribute to its culture. Women should never be trapped in subcultures simply because they lack access to the skills to get out. ... Deportation after a period of time if you do not learn the language is a harsh, but effective, way to ensure that people are gaining the skills that they require to live and contribute to British society." (19/01/2016)

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

Fight against IS is not murder

A criminal investigation has been launched in the Netherlands against former elite soldier Jitse Akse, who is suspected of murdering IS fighters while fighting alongside the Kurdish YPG in Syria. The public outcry over the state's actions against Akse is understandable, the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad argues: "Akse's arrest was above all of a symbolic and legal policy character. …  It is being presented as an inevitable step in the framework of domestic criminal proceedings. Murder is simply forbidden, says the state, which is supplying weapons and soldiers to the very same end. The case may look different from a legal point of view, but from a moral standpoint? To follow this logic you need to be very erudite. In the fight against the IS, Dutch fighters want to prevent terrorist attacks (in Europe). In principle therefore, they are pursuing the same interests as the state. To prosecute them for 'murder' for doing so doesn't exactly make much sense." (20/01/2016)

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