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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 31/05/2011

 

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Germany renounces nuclear power

 

Germany's liberal-conservative government agreed on Sunday night on a complete nuclear phase-out whereby the last of the country's 17 nuclear plants will be taken off grid in 2022 at the latest. A trendsetting move that will boost innovation and the German economy, write some commentators, while others express concern about Europe's power supplies.

Aftonbladet - Sweden

Berlin leads the way

With its plans for a nuclear phase-out Germany has assumed the leading role it deserves in Europe at least as far as energy issues are concerned, writes the left-leaning tabloid Aftonbladet: "Germany is the fourth-largest industrial nation in the world, Europe's biggest economy, and it has now decided to lead the way. Yesterday's decision represents an unparalleled advance for renewable energies and energy efficiency. The Financial Times writes that the German nuclear phase-out will spark a European boom in the use of renewable energies and energy conservation. ... The change will require massive investments but will also lead to high electricity prices. For that reason energy efficiency will take on a key role. Studies show Germany can reduce its energy costs by 10 to 20 percent by raising efficiency. ... In the recent past Germany has increasingly adopted a wait-and-see stance and declined to take on the leadership role that Europe expects of its strongest player. Now the country has done just that on energy issues." (31/05/2011)

Polityka - Poland

Green energy to replace nuclear power

Although a bold step, Germany's nuclear phase-out by 2022 is made feasible by its innovative business environment, writes the online edition of the news magazine Polityka: "Germany has decided to end the nuclear era within its borders - although it has built 17 power plants that cover 23 percent of its power needs. It has had the courage to take this giant step, yet the question remains: how to go on? The goal is clear and has incidentally long been charted: with green energy. Is that possible? It looks as though in Germany's case it is. Germany is already Europe's undisputed market leader in the use of renewable energy sources." (31/05/2011)

De Tijd - Belgium

Economy could benefit from phase-out

Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power is legitimate but poses a challenge for the economy, writes the business paper De Tijd: "The Fukushima accident has shown that nuclear energy is never 100 percent safe. Stress tests can at best only reduce the risk of nuclear disasters, but never rule them out entirely. The German people are entitled to decide that they're not willing to take the risk. But the country must then accept the consequences. It will be a great challenge to secure energy supplies at acceptable prices without weakening the competitiveness of German companies. The decision to effect a complete nuclear withdrawal by 2022 offers the advantage of a clear goal. This could provide the renewable energies sector and the search for technologies to make conventional power plants more environmentally friendly with an enormous stimulus. If Germany is successful it could gain an advantage over other countries." (31/05/2011)

Blog Géopolitique - France

German ecologists import nuclear energy

Germany's nuclear phase-out is a hypocritical election tactic that will weaken Europe, writes Pierre Rousselin in his blog Géopolitique: "Faced with the collapse of her coalition partners, the liberal FDP, Angela Merkel is counting on an alliance with the Greens. This political equation will have repercussions across Europe. Our continent will abandon its independence in energy policy for a long time. We will become even more dependent on Russia and its natural gas. France, for its part, will export even more electricity. The pinnacle of hypocrisy is that our nuclear plants will provide light and heat to the German ecologists. The reduction of greenhouse gases, meanwhile, has been relegated to the back burner." (31/05/2011)

Die Welt - Germany

Ecological pressure imperils democracy

The German government has resolved on a definitive nuclear phase-out two months after the Fukushima catastrophe. The conservative daily Die Welt is outraged, writing that such a tempo runs roughshod over democracy: "Hans-Jürgen Papier, former president of the German Constitutional Court ... considers the moratorium that the magician Angela Merkel pulled from her hat like a rabbit just a few days after Fukushima an 'illegal measure'. ... And no one really seems to care that the committee convened by Merkel to push through the phase-out was cheekily named an 'ethics commission'. ... If such a strong EU founding member as the Federal Republic of Germany wants to forge a new energy path for Europe and the entire world, it would have been indispensable to approach the undertaking on a European level. ... There is now an unholy alliance between those who want to stay in power at all costs and those who long to disempower parliament and the public sphere with morally-charged ecological pressure." (31/05/2011)

POLITICS

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Aargauer Zeitung - Switzerland

Italians turn their backs on Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has suffered another major defeat in the second round of the Italian local and regional elections held on Sunday and Monday. Good news for Italy, writes Switzerland's Aargauer Zeitung: "Silvio Berlusconi has often been declared politically dead - most recently after the sex scandal involving Ruby and 30 other harem girls. But he has always made a comeback - mostly for lack of alternatives. ... But never before have the Italians so demonstratively turned against Berlusconi as in these elections. Even his home town of Milan has turned its back on him - in a manner that leaves no room for doubt. ... But in the end only one thing counts: the wind has turned and not only the European neighbours but also the Italians themselves are ashamed of the bogeyman from Milan. This is good news for the country. Now it's up to the opposition to get rid of this spook for good."   (31/05/2011)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

President plunges Latvia into chaos

Latvia's President Valdis Zatlers initiated the dissolution of the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, on Saturday on the grounds that it lacks the will to fight corruption. The Latvians are now to decide the parliament's fate in a referendum. The daily Neatkarīgās Rīta Avīze sees the entire political system called into question: "The Saeima has traditionally enjoyed so little respect in Latvia that it's always possible to threaten its dissolution and turn the parliament - like in Belarus - into an obedient voting machine, however with the difference that here the president is not chosen by the people but by the parliament. The Saeima, elected by the people, selects a person who can have it dissolved at any time. Only a comprehensive reform of the political system can get rid of this contradiction. However it's doubtful ... that the chaos caused by Zatler's irresponsible conduct can pave the way for a sensible and balanced reform." (31/05/2011)

Sme - Slovakia

Serbs have done with Yugoslav Wars

Around ten thousand Serb nationalists protested on the weekend against the arrest and impending extradition of alleged war criminal Ratko Mladić to face trial in The Hague. In the eyes of the liberal daily Sme the fact that Mladić supporters weren't able to get more people on the streets is good news: "Above all this means that the Serbs are finally coming to terms with the war in the former Yugoslavia and are nearly mature for EU membership talks. Two things still need to be put in order: firstly there must be a credible answer to the questions of how Mladić was able to stay in hiding for 15 years, who helped him, whether these people are still in state or army service and what is to be done with them. ... The second question pertains to Kosovo. Perhaps it was no coincidence that Mladić was arrested at a time when even the Serb parties are breaking a taboo and seriously beginning to consider recognising the former province." (31/05/2011)

Tema - Bulgaria

Nabucco political pawn for Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is trying to cash in politically on its role as the main gas supplier in the EU's Nabucco pipeline project, concludes the news magazine Tema: "Until recently Azerbaijan was considered a secure main supplier for the Nabucco gas project. Now, however, Azerbaijani political expert Rasim Musambekov has commented: 'The Europeans are pressuring Azerbaijan to take part in Nabucco. But we won't obey them at any cost simply to please Europe.' The political price for Nabucco has been precisely calculated. The Azerbaijani want nothing more and nothing less than Europe's backing in resolving the so-called Karabakh Mountain Conflict with Armenia. ... This raises the question of whether Washington and Brussels are prepared to officially take sides with Azerbaijan just because Armenia has neither gas nor oil reserves." (30/05/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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La Stampa - Italy

Marta Dassù sees G8 states as still important

After the summit in Deauville many observers are questioning the G8's relevance. Political scientist Marta Dassù takes issue with this view in the liberal daily La Stampa: "The US and Europe are finally recovering from their decline in recent years. Given the rise of the so-called 'acceptable autocracies' led by China, democracy seemed to doomed to failure as a competitive political system. ... But the US and Europe are gradually beginning to understand the importance of their mutual relations. With the shift of the global economic axis towards the Pacific the old transatlantic alliance is obviously no longer enough to rule the world. ... Finally, the Russian question plays a role. Moscow can hardly be described as a member of an alliance of ripe democracies. However the G8 serves to anchor Russia in the extended West, therefore forming a counterweight to the new relations that are developing among the Bric states (the emerging economies) which include Russia and China." (31/05/2011)

ECONOMY

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El País - Spain

E. coli panic disrupts Spanish business

The cause of the high number of cases of E. coli infections in Germany and other countries remains unclear. Nevertheless the suspicion that the bacteria was spread by Spanish vegetables will result in losses of millions of euros for farmers in Spain, the left-liberal daily El País fears: "Instead of factual information the press spread the word that the infection originates from a truckload of Spanish cucumbers. However even a minimal knowledge of production and supply routes is enough for anyone to see that the contamination could also have occurred at any other phase in the marketing chain (during transport, storage in Germany or sales). The confusion and the harm it has caused cannot be undone. Spanish farmers stand to lose up to 200 million euros a week as a result of vague suspicions about southern-Spanish vegetables and the resulting export stop. This is not a responsible way to sound a food alarm." (31/05/2011)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Hungary's late help to house builders

The Hungarian government reached an agreement on Monday with Hungarian banks regarding an aid package for borrowers who have taken out mortgages in foreign currencies. The help comes too late, writes the left-liberal daily Népszabadság: "A high price must be paid for the tardy elaboration of the rescue package. It is estimated that the number of those who can no longer repay their foreign currency loans is rising by five to six thousand each month. According to the data of the Hungarian National Bank, the number of debtors who have not serviced such loans for at least 90 days was 110,000 at the end of December. The banks may cancel their contracts at any time. ... A considerable number of the debtors refrained from doing their utmost to pay back their instalments or reach an agreement with the banks in the belief that the state would protect them and they wouldn't lose their homes. ... For many the state help now comes too late." (31/05/2011)

SOCIETY

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România Liberâ - Romania

Court defies Securitate propaganda

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled last week that Romania must pay 15,000 euros in compensation to the family of a young man who was killed during the 1989 revolution. The daily România Liberă welcomes the judgement: "The ECHR has pronounced its judgement at a time when Securitate (the former communist intelligence service) was churning out the same old story that it doesn't make sense to talk about the past because 20 years have passed and we must start looking forwards. However they were telling us this back in the 1990s on television and in the newspapers. And it was repeated by people who had something to hide. One of them even called the researchers who investigated the Securitate mass graves necrophiles. ... Of course these people want us to look forward and be blinkered to their blemished past." (31/05/2011)

Times of Malta - Malta

Malta must pass divorce law

A majority of Maltese voted for the legalisation of divorce in a referendum on Sunday. As the referendum is not binding it is now up to parliament to pick up the baton, writes the liberal-conservative daily Times of Malta: "The biggest burden now rests with MPs. It will not be easy for those of them whose conscience does not accept divorce. In the circumstances, they need to make their position crystal clear at the very start of the parliamentary debate. ... The attention is now on the parties represented in Parliament. Both leaders say the will of the people has to be respected, meaning divorce legislation must be introduced. They have also declared all MPs are free to vote according to their own conscience. What has happened so far in Parliament does not seem to show that this is truly the case. It is time for MPs to stand up and be counted, literally." (31/05/2011)

Sol - Portugal

Portugal desperately seeking a future

Portugal is in crisis, broke, facing new elections and without great hopes for improvement, writes the weekly Sol taking stock of the current situation: "Portugal may go under, the euro may collapse and Germany doesn't like us. The recession has come to stay. Unemployment is not going down. ... Portugal has reached a dead-end and the elections are just around the corner. The holidays, too, but many Portuguese will be staying at home. The politicians are hurling insults at each other, the atmosphere is tense and the commentators are kicking up a fuss. Television is only aggravating the mood. There's no good news, the bad news dominates. Parties and politicians don't understand each other. But it would be good if they did and at least showed that they're worth the money they cost us. It's time someone gave us hope, but there's no sign of such a person. Portugal needs an overhaul and young people. And a future. But where are they? Anyone who finds them will be rewarded." (30/05/2011)

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