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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 30/09/2011

 

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Germany approves increased bailout fund

 

The German Bundestag on Thursday voted with a resounding majority in favour of increasing the euro bailout facility, the EFSF. With this decision Germany guarantees a participation of 211 billion euros in the bailout mechanism. While some commentators praise Europe's successful crisis management, others find the decision nothing short of irresponsible.

Le Figaro - France

Victory for Europe

Europe has shown once again that it is able to deal with crisis situations, the conservative daily Le Figaro writes with an eye to the the German Bundestag's vote on the euro bailout fund. "This blank cheque from the Bundestag is doubtlessly a personal victory for the chancellor, but it is also a victory for Europe. Amidst all the internal frictions and the need to respect democratic schedules and consult national parliaments, Europe sometimes comes across as unfortunately indecisive. But despite all the sarcasm and criticism, when the chips are down it always shows it can set aside internal conflicts if need be. And in so doing it also puts the lie to those - like some in the US - who criticise its disorganisation and poor crisis management and start playing the taskmaster after they themselves caused one of the worst economic crises the world has ever seen." (30/09/2011)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Germany working on its reputation

The Bundestag's decision on the euro bailout fund shows that despite its reputation Germany is ready to incur high financial risks in support of the euro: "Nevertheless, this commitment contrasts strangely with the country's image abroad. In many European capitals Germany is considered stingy, indecisive and egoistic. The German experts at the European Central Bank are considered troublemakers because they're not willing to go along with an unconditional opening of the purse strings. In Athens in particular. There, 'Merkel' has become a swear word. Angry demonstrators regularly protest against the alleged 'financial nazis' in Berlin. Yesterday shows that these accusations are unfounded. ... Germany is better - and more European - than its reputation." (30/09/2011)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Merkel needs monoculture of opinion

In the vote on expanding the euro bailout package in the German Bundestag on Thursday many MPs voted contrary to their own convictions in order to secure Chancellor Angela Merkel's majority, the conservative daily Lidové noviny suspects: "Why was the whole thing turned into such a drama, with even the 'to be or not to be' of the coalition brought into play? The last thing Merkel, her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and the other decision-makers responsible for the government stance need is a stream of opposition forming against them. In order to stay in power as long as possible the kind of mono-culture of opinion must prevail among the major policymakers which existed when the euro was founded, and which at the same time bears direct responsibility for the outbreak of the current crisis. Yet in Germany everyone knows or at least suspects that the path taken with yesterday's decision is a further step in the wrong direction."  (30/09/2011)

Handelsblatt - Germany

Robbing the financially innocent

The German Bundestag acted irresponsibly with its vote to increase Germany's contribution to the euro bailout fund, writes the liberal business paper Handelsblatt: "Very likely our children will realise that their parents and their representatives set a mechanism in motion that robbed them of their financial innocence even before they were born. A mechanism that concocted a mountain of debt for the future that in their lifetimes will make Europe dwindle to insignificance compared with other economic regions. ... Excuses to the effect that the money is only a loan guarantee are of little use. They merely reveal that none of those who have said 'Yes' to the increased bailout fund can know what the consequences of this decision will be. In such a situation It would have helped to stick to what is known for certain. For example the Swabian proverb: Those who pledge money would do better to give it outright. Those who can't give money shouldn't pledge it. The Members of the Bundestag failed to heed these words." (30/09/2011)

The Economist - United Kingdom

Lilliputians fighting the crisis

Despite the German parliament's green light for the expansion of the euro bailout facility the liberal business paper The Economist is pessimistic about the outcome: "Even if a catastrophe in Europe is avoided, the prospects for the world economy are darkening, as the rich world's fiscal austerity intensifies and slowing emerging economies provide less of a cushion for global growth. ... In the aftermath of the Lehman crisis, policymakers broadly did the right thing. ... Now, more often than not, policymakers seem to be getting it wrong. ... Too many rich-world politicians have failed to tell voters the scale of the problem. In Germany, where the jobless rate is lower than in 2008, people tend to think the crisis is about lazy Greeks and Italians. Mrs Merkel needs to explain clearly that it also includes Germany's own banks - and that Germany faces a choice between a costly solution and a ruinous one. ... At a time of enormous problems, the politicians seem Lilliputian." (30/09/2011)

POLITICS

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Delfi - Estonia

Estonia's vote for euro rescue only option

The Estonian parliament also voted in favour of boosting the euro rescue fund on Thursday. Web portal Delfi says it did the right thing: "It's too simplistic to describe the stability facility a 'debility facility' or to write if off with statements like: 'Why should an Estonian with an average wage of 800 euros throw money at the Greeks?'. This way of thinking is inappropriate and above all typical of those who bear no responsibility for the economy. Of course it's the Greeks' own fault that their country is now on the brink of insolvency. The problem is that in a common economic and monetary zone there's no 'that's their problem' but only 'that's our problem'. If the crisis is left to take its course it will trigger a tsunami on the stock exchanges that would also reach Estonian shores - and our economy, which has only just started showing signs of growth again, certainly wouldn't survive it." (30/09/2011)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Europe ignores Eastern partnership

The two-day summit of EU heads of state and government with countries of the Eastern Partnership ends today in Warsaw. The idea behind the meeting is to strengthen economic and political ties with six former Soviet republics. But too little attention is paid to the Partnership despite its significance, writes the left-liberal daily Népszabadság: "Europe hardly pays any attention at all to this region. That goes for the media as well as the politicians, who are understandably caught up with EU affairs and the Middle East. ... The background to the Eastern Partnership can be explained as follows: 1. For the West, the post-Soviet states on the other side of the EU eastern frontier serve so to speak as a buffer zone to Russia while at the same time offering economic prospects and sources of raw materials. 2. The inhabitants of these states don't feel any less European than the citizens of today's EU states - like for example Poland or Romania. For that reason the main subject of discussion at the summit is what this Partnership actually is." (30/09/2011)

El Mundo - Spain

Spain's Socialists flatter Eta

The socialist premier of the Basque Country, Patxi López, wants to improve prison conditions for Eta terrorists, he announced on Thursday. The conservative daily El Mundo fears that the Socialists (PSOE) are allowing themselves to be drawn into negotiations with the separatist terrorists in exchange for the latter announcing their dissolution shortly before the elections in November: " Patxi López' sudden rush to discover green shoots on Eta's patch can only be explained by his desire to flatter the organisation into making a public gesture ahead of the elections. López is a close colleague of [the Socialist top candidate] Rubalcaba. And PSOE is convinced that a communiqué from the terrorists could effect a swing of opinion among the voters, given that all the surveys so far point to a debacle for its candidates. It would enable them to convince the citizens of the merits of negotiations and to cast the [conservative] People's Party (PP) as an obstacle to peace." (30/09/2011)

Berlingske - Denmark

Top politician stumped by contact with rocker

Henrik Sass Larsen, who was slated to become Denmark's minister of finance, has failed the security test carried out by the Danish police intelligence service Pet owing to his contact with the member of a gang of rockers. Larsen withdrew his candidacy for all posts after hearing the news. The conservative daily Berlingske calls for a thorough investigation: "Because this is sensitive personal data, [the prime minister designate] Helle Thorning-Schmidt can't make it public herself. But she should inform the former minister candidate about what Pet has against him and convince him to explain to voters where exactly the problem lies. The times when governments could tell voters a load of rubbish should be a thing of the past. Even if the affair has a negative impact on Thorning's start in office, the damage is not irreparable. Only once the public knows the whole story can the government put the affair behind it." (30/09/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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Ethnos - Greece

Giorgos Delastik on the departure from the European idea

The EU Commission on Monday published a survey according to which many EU citizens take a dim view of the advantages offered by the European single market. Roughly 65 percent of German respondents felt that large businesses are the only ones to profit from the single market. But the Germans aren't the only ones turning their backs on the European vision, writes columnist Giorgos Delastik in the left-liberal daily To Ethnos: "More and more of the hundreds of millions of Europeans share this scepticism. They feel isolated from the so-called 'European idea' and view the completion of the EU, to the extent that it is being pursued these days, as a threat to their standard of living. Clearly the European elites feel they have the power to push through their idea for completing Europe without the approval of half a billion EU citizens. But it's not certain that things will always be that way." (29/09/2011)

ECONOMY

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Aamulehti - Finland

Nokia no longer connects people

The Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia announced on Thursday plans to axe 3,500 jobs, most of them in Romania. The company will lose customers and colleagues with this move, the liberal daily Aamulehti writes: "Nokia's difficulties and change of strategy are having an impact not only on its own work force. Its partners and suppliers in Finland and elsewhere have become trapped in the same downwards spiral as Nokia. ... Its employees will have difficulty swallowing the explanation given by [Nokia boss] Elop that the company is making progress with its strategy and the planned changes will help it to become a more dynamic, quicker and more effective player. So far Nokia's strategy has consisted mainly of spending cuts and saying farewell to its subsidiaries. The fruits of the cooperation between Nokia and the US company Microsoft are not yet forthcoming. ... Nokia claims to connect people, but right now its contact with employees and customers has broken down." (30/09/2011)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Inscrutable Opec

The price of oil rose for the first time in a while on Thursday. As recently as mid-September the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (Opec) had adjusted its forecast for the year downwards. It is difficult to predict how oil prices will develop because Opec is so lacking in transparency, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita comments: "It has long been acknowledged that anyone who could predict oil prices would be the richest person in the world. This is all the more true because even market experts repeatedly make false predictions. For instance the Gazprom chairman predicted three years ago that a barrel would cost 250 dollars. In the end the price sank to below 100 dollars. ... The big unknown quantity in this game is as usual Opec. The cartel of major oil-exporting states reacts to sinking prices by cutting supplies, no matter whether the prices at the time are favourable for it or not." (30/09/2011)

CULTURE

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Pravda - Slovakia

Maria Theresa belongs to Slovakia

The Slovakian capital of Bratislava plans to re-erect a monument to the Austro-Hungarian empress Maria Theresa, triggering a lively debate in Slovakia. The left-leaning daily Pravda has no sympathy for the critics: "Maria Theresa belongs to this city because she was crowned here and made a great contribution to developing the city. The arguments put forward by the opponents are strange: there is no call for nostalgia for the monarch; the monument would represent the harshest oppression of the Slovaks. But how Slovakian is Bratislava? Until 1919 the city was Hungarian. The majority of its population were Germans and Hungarians. The Slovaks were in the minority. Our very cosmopolitan Bratislava was admirable even though not everything about it was so wonderful. But our history, whether we like it or not, is a joint one. The return of the monument is not a slight to the Slovaks. We must learn to see our history from a comprehensive perspective." (30/09/2011)

SOCIETY

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De Telegraaf - Netherlands

No more Eastern European migrants

The Netherlands has underestimated the consequences and failed to deal adequately with the flow of labour migrants from Eastern Europe, above all from Poland, a parliamentary commission concluded on Thursday. Steps must now be taken to correct this, writes the right-wing tabloid De Telegraaf: "A growing number of Dutch villages and districts are encountering problems arising from the quickly accelerating concentration of immigrants, who stir up trouble and often live in deplorable conditions. This situation only stands to deteriorate further when perhaps tens of thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians are also allowed to seek salvation here. The cabinet must bar access to the country as quickly as possible - naturally under observance of the European treaties on the free movement of people. The Romanians and Bulgarians must wait. Exploitation and other problems must first be combated. And at the same time it must be made clear that there is no place in our country for immigrants with no prospects." (30/09/2011)

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