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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 24/10/2011

 

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EU again postpones euro bailout

 

The heads of state and government of the EU met in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the debt crisis. But they don't intend to present the solutions until Wednesday's special summit. Commentators say the Union remains unable to act, not least because Germany and France are too often at odds.

Kurier - Austria

Europe paralysed

The EU heads of state and government want to save Greece and soothe the financial markets at another summit on Wednesday. But the liberal daily Kurier now doubts if Europe is at all still capable of taking action against the crisis: "It can't go on like this with the crisis and decision management in the EU. When are the state leaders finally going to say which Europe they want? One that continues muddling along, risking the end of the monetary union or one that transfers democratic powers to the European Parliament? If answers don't come soon the governments will have to fear their citizens will join ranks against them as either nationalist populists or an 'Occupy Brussels' movement of people who want a stronger Europe. They will ask: Were you asleep? Have you mortgaged our future? As long as every head of government remains focused on domestic politics Europe will be a pawn of other powers. To the detriment of all EU citizens." (24/10/2011)

La Vanguardia - Spain

EU must finally take action

The renewed postponement of important decisions again demonstrates the Union's indecisiveness in times of crisis, the daily La Vanguardia writes: "It's well known that the EU takes two steps forward and one and a half backward because of the need to reach a consensus and the tensions generated by competing national interests. In these times of crisis the steps forward are getting shorter and the steps backward bigger, particularly since Germany is showing signs of fatigue in its role as European driving force, which reinforces the impression of an ungovernable EU. ... The situation is serious enough. The countries of the Eurozone must find a solution that saves the euro and strengthens Europe. To do this they must pass a series of measures that guarantees 'global stability', as president of the EU Commission Barroso put it." (24/10/2011)

Libération - France

France loses influence to Germany

Germany and France showed a united front at the euro summit on the weekend. But appearances are deceptive, writes the left-liberal daily Libération: "There is a clear leader in the old Franco-German tandem, and not just since yesterday. The euro was originally conceived along the lines of the German mark. ... This domination was at first tempered by the strength and courage needed to introduce the common currency. However the brutal repercussions of the financial crisis have now brought the truth to light. From Germany's perspective France's status, its right to a say and its influence have dwindled. The French president's proposals for solving the euro crisis - as pertinent as they may be - have not been heard. President Sarkozy hangs on the chancellor's every move. For all his resolve, our financial credibility has taken a severe beating." (24/10/2011)

La Repubblica - Italy

Italy bears part of blame for crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were right to berate Italy for escalating the debt crisis at the EU summit, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica writes: "The 'Merkozy' duo made some clear distinctions on Sunday: on the one hand Greece and Italy and on the other the remaining countries implicated in the debt crisis. Italy won't like being put on par with the country that triggered the debt crisis. But it's obvious that Italy, if not the genesis of the crisis, is at least responsible for making it worse. For the government was far too late in deciding to intervene. It is also more than understandable that the German and French taxpayers who are now expected to foot the bill for the bailout want to ensure that the beneficiaries of the bailout can't continue to postpone unavoidable decisions." (24/10/2011)

POLITICS

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Aftonbladet - Sweden

Islam and democracy compatible in Tunisia

Tunisians voted in the country's first-ever free elections on Sunday. The turnout for the vote to appoint the 217-seat assembly tasked with rewriting the constitution was enormous. But in the West all the euphoria about the popular revolutions in the Arab region has evaporated amidst fears that Islamists could gain control, the left-liberal tabloid Aftonbladet laments: "Essentially we're dealing here with the same fear of democracy that the powers that be always felt. The fear about what the masses could come up with if they came to power. The same argument weaves its way through history from Plato to today's leading article like a red thread. But the spread of democracy across the globe shows that the masses in general are pretty clever. Of course democracy and Islam are compatible, just as Christianity or any other world religion is compatible with democracy. Anyone who claims the contrary should prove it. Meanwhile the killing of Gaddafi, on the other hand, is proof of what challenges still lie ahead. Democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights are all interconnected. ... The Western world must support the elections and respect the decisions of the people. We must simply have the courage to trust our own ideals." (24/10/2011)

Sme - Slovakia

Libya's new start fraught with uncertainty

Libya officially celebrated its liberation from the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi on Sunday, three days after the dictator's violent death. But celebrating the end of tyranny is easier than the job that lies ahead, namely the construction of a free society, the liberal daily Sme contends: "Optimists say Libya has good prospects thanks to its oil exports. In addition the society is sufficiently homogeneous and the Libyans were quick to create state organs at the very beginning of the revolution and for that reason also received foreign support. ... Pessimists however fear that where there is money there are also patrons. Moreover although Libya is united religiously it is divided ethnically between Arabs and Berbers and geographically between Bengasi and Tripoli. Sceptics see the unwillingness of some groups to lay down the arms they fought with against Gaddafi as a fertile breeding ground for future conflicts. ... And the demise of the dictator is also casting a shadow over the country's new beginning." (24/10/2011)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Election divides Swiss party landscape

The right-wing conservative Swiss People's Party lost two percentage points In the Swiss parliamentary elections on Sunday, but still managed to come in strongest party with 26.8 percent of the vote. The centrist parties gained overall, but now have to contend with many smaller parties that have made it into parliament. The liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung doubts whether the country can be governed properly with such a fragmented party landscape: "It remains a moot point to what extent the strengthened but divided centre will know how to capitalise on its slight gain in parliament. A first hurdle will come with the approaching elections of the Swiss Federal Council. But even greater challenges lie ahead, from how to deal with Europe to social issues and energy policy to the economic problems in view of a financial and monetary crisis that is far from over." (24/10/2011)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Bad timing of UK debate on EU exit

The British parliament will debate today, Monday, whether citizens should vote in a referendum on the UK exiting the EU. In the opinion of the liberal daily The Independent the timing could hardly be worse: "If the eurozone fails, a large chunk of the UK economy is endangered, too. More than anything else, it is international apprehension about the eurozone that is stalling economic recovery in Britain. This is why we have in recent months been treated to the unlikely spectacle of eurosceptic ministers insisting that the strength and survival of the eurozone are in Britain's best interests. This is why both Mr Cameron and the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, have insisted on imposing a whip on their MPs voting today. And this is why a debate, which would otherwise have been of very little consequence except for the purpose of letting off some eurosceptic steam, could hardly have been less helpfully timed – for Mr Cameron, or for Europe." (24/10/2011)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria

Bulgaria's next president needs vision

The first round of the presidential elections in Bulgaria was won by the candidate of the centre-right ruling party, Rosen Plevneliev, with 39.7 percent of the vote. In the run-off vote on October 30 he will compete against the Socialist Ivaylo Kalfin, who came second with 29.6 percent. The government candidate stands a chance of becoming a good president, writes the daily 24 Chasa: "If Plevneliev wants to win the elections he will have to present a modern vision for the office of president along Western European lines, something that has been lacking for the last eight years. ... But if he misconceives the president's role and its importance for the self-awareness and spirit of the nation, he will either not be elected at all or he will spend the next five years very comfortably - apart from being accused in the first two of dancing to the government's tune. How he decides depends on him alone. ... In any case he has a chance to break new ground." (24/10/2011)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Hungary's ex-premier onus on his new party

The former Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány on Saturday announced that together with others will he will resign from the Socialist Party (MSZP) and form his own new party called the Democratic Coalition (DK). The new party has potential but the unpopular Gyurcsány could spoil its chances, the left-liberal daily Népszabadság comments: "The divide within the MSZP is the result of an internal debate that revolves around the following: Why haven't the Socialists managed to win the votes of the disappointed voters of the Right? ... The proportion of undecided voters has swollen to 55 percent. ... Gyurcsány's idea of creating a left-liberal-conservative camp to stand up to Viktor Orbán's government doubtless has more chances of success than the anaemic politics of the MSZP. However the essentially good prospects of a 'Western-oriented leftist party' are considerably diminished by the strong rejection of the politician Gyurcsány." (22/10/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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hvg - Hungary

Immanuel Wallerstein on the success of the Occupy movement

Occupy Wall Street, the movement against the power of the financial markets and social injustice that started in the US and has spread across the globe, is already a huge success, social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein of Yale University writes in the left-liberal weekly Heti Világgazdaság: "The Occupy Wall Street movement - for now it is a movement - is the most important political happening in the United States since the uprisings in 1968, whose direct descendant or continuation it is. Why it started in the United States when it did - and not three days, three months, three years earlier or later - we'll never know for sure. ... Acutely increasing economic pain not only for the truly poverty-stricken but for an ever-growing segment of the working poor (otherwise known as the 'middle class'); incredible exaggeration (exploitation, greed) of the wealthiest one per cent of the U.S. population ('Wall Street'); the example of angry upsurges around the world (the 'Arab spring', the Spanish indignados, the Chilean students, the Wisconsin trade unions, and a long list of others). It doesn't really matter what the spark was that ignited the fire. It started." (24/10/2011)

ECONOMY

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung - Germany

Only more taxes can help overcome the crisis

Greece will need considerably more money than expected, the observers of the troika made up of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the EU Commission have concluded. The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung calls on governments to finally admit that taxes must be raised if the crisis is to be overcome: "The BCG [Boston Consulting Group] reckons with a one-off tax of somewhere between twenty and thirty percent on property and assets. It would be unpopular, difficult to push through and so on - but at least better than any other approach. There is no policymaker today who has the guts to say what the Boston Consulting Group has written. The adjustment of the financial sector to the real world, the transaction tax, the legal prosecution of systems of fraud - all this will come. But first we will all get poorer together and we will all have to work longer and more for less post-tax income. Someone should say now what no one has dared say for decades: that taxes will rise, permanently and considerably, and that this is the price of our civilisation." (23/10/2011)

Polityka Online - Poland

Slovaks must modernise Polish ski lifts

In the run-up to the ski season the Slovakian investment company Tatry Mountain Resorts wants to take over the Polish cable car operator PKL. While the purchase is necessary to boost tourism, it goes against national sentiment, the online edition of the news magazine Polityka writes: "The problem is that the cable cars in Zakopane which belong to PKL are true pearls, particularly those high on Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka. The idea of selling them rouses strong emotions. Opponents of the transaction say this is a matter of national heritage. ... But the problem is also that without investments and a modern infrastructure in the Kasprowy region, this fantastic Polish ski area will lose its attraction. It already speaks volumes that the lifts in the Kocioł Goryczkowy valley have been all but closed for the past two seasons. The upshot is that Poles no longer go skiing in the Polish mountains, but in the Alps or even Slovakia." (24/10/2011)

SOCIETY

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Capital - Romania

Romania's questionable number of millionaires

Romania is one of the poorest countries in the EU yet according to the Global Wealth Report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute a disproportionately high number of its citizens are millionaires: the report claims that 16,528 of the country's inhabitants own more than a million US dollars in assets. Ovidiu Anton of the business newspaper Capital, which publishes a list of the top 300 millionaires in Romania each year, doubts the accuracy of the Swiss statistics: "Whenever I question one of the top 300 millionaires about their income they always get aggressive! He will say that he shouldn't be in the ranking list because there are a thousand other people in Romania who are richer than he. And there's a certain amount of truth in this! But when I ask for concrete examples he naturally can't give any. It's true that each year the list includes new millionaires. But locating them and proving their assets is [owing to the intertwined structures] a real challenge. ... This is why I have my doubts about the figure of 16,528 Romanian millionaires. The Credit Suisse Research Institute purports to have used diverse statistics, questionnaires and specialist literature as a source of information. Not all the figures seem plausible to us. The correct conclusion here would be that there is indeed a growing number of Romanian millionaires!" (24/10/2011)

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