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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 13/09/2012

 

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German Constitutional Court approves ESM

The constitutional judges dismissed complaints filed by roughly 37,000 citizens against the ESM and the fiscal compact. (© dapd)

 

Germany's Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled in favour of Germany participating in the European Stability Mechanism. However the country's liability may not exceed a fixed limit without the permission of the German parliament, or Bundestag. The ruling by the judges in Karlsruhe will only plunge the crisis-stricken states further into debt, some commentators argue. Others say the decision has paved the way for the creation of a fiscal union and the rescue of the euro.

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Germany's questionable double standards

The fact that Germany's liability is limited to 190 billion euros for the ESM unless the German parliament gives the go-ahead for more is further evidence of Germany's double standards, the liberal-conservative business daily Il Sole 24 contends: "It is no mere coincidence that Merkel backs the integration of the banking sector, but at the same time opposes centralised supervision of all European banks. … The same goes for the [190 billion euro] limit on Germany's liability. Here the judges in Karlsruhe have ruled in favour of budgeting sovereignty. … On the one hand Germany calls on its partners to sign the fiscal pact and consequently to renounce sovereignty over their own budget policy in the name of the inevitable Europeanisation of economic and political structures. And on the other, with their ruling on the European bailout mechanism the judges are applying exactly the opposite logic? That smacks of double standards - or blind nationalism." (13/09/2012)

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

EU becomes an oligarchy of the privileged

The ruling by the German Constitutional Court gives a carte blanche to anyone who wants to rack up debts unhindered, the business paper Hospodárske noviny laments: "It looks very much as if this puts an end to the fight against the far-reaching bailout fund and against all those who break the rules. It is a defeat for everyone who very sensibly tries not to spend more than they take in. In this unequal battle the first to be booted out were the national parliaments. Anyone who wanted to decide matters for themselves was assassinated politically. On September 12 the last hurdle was removed by Germany's Constitutional Court. ... The Union is no longer governed by the principle of freedom and democracy that Brussels once taught us. It rests on the principle of an oligarchy. The last word on systemic bailouts lies with a handful of privileged players: the biggest debtor states, the multinational banks and anonymous investors." (13/09/2012)

Spiegel Online - Germany

Green light for fiscal union

With its decision Germany's Constitutional Court has revised its previous decisions on the relationship between the EU and national states, and paved the way for the creation of a European fiscal union, writes business journalist Wolfgang Münchau on the news portal Spiegel Online: "In the Maastricht ruling the court [still] maintained at that point that the EU's sovereignty derived from the member states, whose sovereignty was indivisible, meaning that they could not give up the most important areas of nation-state decision-making. The Lisbon ruling defined what fiscal policy encompassed - if it was to be transferred to the EU, then only through a referendum. The EFSF ruling reaffirmed that the Bundestag could not transfer its essential sovereign rights permanently. All this precluded a fiscal union. With its current ruling, however, the Constitutional Court has given the green light because taken together, the combination of a permanent bailout mechanism, a non-terminable fiscal compact and unlimited bond purchases by the European Central Bank effectively add up to a fiscal union." (13/09/2012)

Polityka Online - Poland

No alternative to ESM

Germany's Constitutional Court did the right thing with its ruling and has contributed to saving the euro, the left-liberal news portal Polityka writes: "The situation in Spain and Italy would have become even more dramatic and all of Europe would have accused Germany of wanting to destroy the common currency - and perhaps even the entire EU. True, the Germans are fed up of hearing the constant announcements of bailouts for more and more countries. But now there is no going back; the bailout fund is on the way. If the Eurozone is really to survive, not only budgetary discipline but also solidarity must play an important role in the future. That is the price the rich states will have to pay. And in the years to come it could amount to many billions of euros. The sole alternative would be the end of the euro, which would certainly cost even more." (13/09/2012)

ABC - Spain

The euro becoming more and more German

Germany has too much power over the single currency, the conservative daily ABC warns, but praises the judges in Karlsruhe for indirectly counteracting this imbalance: "The huge sense of suspense created by the Constitutional Court's decision on the creation of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) has proven for the umpteenth time that the euro is turning not into a European currency but a projection of the old Deutschmark. And that Germany has a decisive influence through all channels on European monetary policy. For this reason - and even the court itself stressed this - the EU urgently needs to establish appropriate, democratically legitimised institutions. This is the only way to prevent one country from having a stronger influence than all the rest together when it comes to decisions that affect the entire Eurozone." (13/09/2012)

POLITICS

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Trouw - Netherlands

Dutch have had enough of polarisation

The centre-right liberal VVD party led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte achieved a narrow victory in the Dutch parliamentary elections on Wednesday, winning two seats more than the Social Democrats (PvdA). Meanwhile the party led by right-wing populist Geert Wilders suffered major losses. The Christian-social daily Trouw sees the election result as a rejection of polarising politics: "The voters have placed a great deal of trust in the VVD and the PvdA. The forces that have undermined the political centre and dominated politics since 2002 have been halted. It is gratifying to see that the voters have harshly punished Wilders' party for dodging the negotiations on an austerity package in April. There is now clarity as to where the nation is heading. The voters see Europe as their future and centrist policies as offering solutions to the crisis. The VVD and the PvdA now have the obligation to form a government and mark this turning point. … The voters, this must be clear once and for all, have had enough of polarisation." (13/09/2012)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

European federation a risky undertaking

The proposals for a banking union and a federation of nation states presented by EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso on Wednesday would entail major reforms and therefore need to be thoroughly discussed, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten stresses: "Barroso wants to move towards a banking and fiscal union, and that requires a new contractual basis. External pressure is dictating which changes are economically necessary. The challenge now is to make this understandable also to those who are not economic experts. The EU is on its way to becoming a federation of nation states. But what this means for democracy and its policies is far from clear at this point. Barroso has promised a corresponding proposal for this autumn. This will be the necessary starting point for a debate that must tackle the democratic requirements at least as intensively as the economic demands." (13/09/2012)

De Standaard - Belgium

Europe's super Wednesday without breakthroughs

With three decisive events for Europe, Wednesday was a day of relief even if a positive vision is still lacking, the liberal daily De Standaard writes: "The voters in the Netherlands toyed for a while with extremist solutions: the [right-wing populist] PVV led by Geert Wilders and the Socialist party led by Emile Roemer. Two parties that presented themselves as anti-European. But in the end it wasn't the head scarf controversy or Greece phobia that ruled the day but classic issues like health, income, pensions and education. … Phew! … And there were more reasons to breathe a sigh of relief yesterday. Above all when Germany's Constitutional Court dismissed the complaints against the European bailout fund, meaning that the agreements on the euro can come into effect. Phew! And the EU Commission and the EU Parliament want to continue on the laborious path they started on. This was clear from the 'state of the union' speech given by José Manuel Barroso. Phew! … He also criticised the 'populism' that aims to turn the people against Europe. But that's an oversimplification. Populism is gaining ground because Europe is at odds with itself, and nothing really positive is being said about Europe that sounds credible and intelligible and produces a 'now I get it' effect." (13/09/2012)

Le Figaro - France

Catalan nationalism a threat to EU

According to police reports, more than a million Catalonians demonstrated for their independence in Barcelona on Wednesday. Europe should pay close attention to Catalonia's struggle for independence, which has flared up again in the midst of the debt crisis, the conservative daily Le Figaro warns: "The Catalonians argue that 19 percent of state expenditure should be allocated to them because they produce 19 percent of Spain's GDP. But in so doing they ignore the mechanisms of solidarity between the country's regions. ... How is one to justify European crisis policy and the financial solidarity mechanism under such conditions? ... Europe only makes sense if the nations that form part of it demonstrate solidarity with each other. ... The Catalans teach us that under the surface a narrow-minded and populist nationalism is threatening the very foundations of the European edifice - and this at at time when it is fighting to save its currency. Southern Europe is not making things easy for its partners, and is demonstrating a lack of political responsibility that could prove fatal." (13/09/2012)

Blog Ivo Indjev - Bulgaria

Bulgaria too far out on a limb

Bulgaria's Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Simeon Djankov has harshly criticised the Netherlands in the newspaper De Telegraaf for its vehement opposition to Bulgaria joining the Schengen zone. He said that the Netherlands had made itself an object of ridicule in Europe and Brussels with its populist Schengen Policy. In his blog Ivo Indyev tries to bring Djankov back to reality: "It may be that for a brief moment in their long history of democracy, the Dutch fell prey to populism and nationalism. ... Nonetheless they have every reason to see themselves as pioneers and the embodiment of Western-style parliamentary democracy. ... As a representative of our small and underdeveloped democracy Djankov should not go so far out on a limb. ... As someone who has feasted himself on power he may feel entitled to do so, but please not when he is speaking on behalf of a state that still has so much catching up to do to in the race for the best seats under the European sun." (13/09/2012)

Kurier - Austria

Denounce Mohammed film but don't kill

A US-made amateur film about the prophet Mohammed sparked violent protests in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia on Tuesday and Wednesday. The UN ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were killed in an attack in Benghazi in eastern Libya, and ten Libyans also died. Islamic representatives should take a stand and call for an end to the violence, the liberaly Kurier demands: "In the critical dialogue with the people, the extremists will stay where they are - on the margins of society and ultimately irrelevant. Unfortunately, the bloody uprising in parts of the Islamic World against this most recent provocation was predictable, and it must be harshly condemned. Criticism is OK, but violence is not. When ultra-orthodox Jews - it is suspected - recently wrote 'Jesus is an ape' on the wall of a monastery near Jerusalem, did Synagogues burn or were Israeli embassies attacked? No, thank God. The Muslim authorities are now called upon to bring the mob to its senses. To merely remain silent would make them accomplices of the mob and further complicate the crucial dialogue between the religions which is already faltering." (13/09/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Philosopher András Lánczi on the sterile void of the EU

The single currency serves as an example for the lack of a common European spirit, philosopher András Lánczi writes in the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet: "The lack of a European spirit and a sense of belonging in Europe can be demonstrated by using the common currency as an example. Lay a euro bill on the table beside the bank note of any national currency you please. The one shows the image of national heroes and artists, the other buildings and bridges. Just as the euro notes lack a spiritual and cultural background, the entire EU is an artificial and sterile construct with which Europeans do not feel even the slightest emotional affiliation. A comparison with the world auxiliary language Esperanto is inevitable. Although it is logical, sensible and easy to learn, it hasn't made any progress whatsoever in replacing the national languages." (11/09/2012)

ECONOMY

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Libération - France

Apple is a cold monster

Apple presented its new iPhone in San Francisco on Wednesday. The computer giant may know how to seduce its customers, but in so doing it reveals itself as a cunning slave master, the left-liberal daily Liberátion writes: "In this pitiless struggle neither the workers nor the consumers stand to gain anything. Apple continues to have its so sought-after devices manufactured in Chinese sweatshops, far from the campus atmosphere and 'celestial seasonings' fragrances of its California-based premises. Consumers pay dearly for the proud beauty of its products, the smoothness of their screens and the humanity of its software. Apple has cleverly blocked access to music and press products, so that users must pass through the narrow gates of its 'stores', securing huge profits for the brand. But [the late apple founder] Steve Jobs' real tour de force was to make his products the bait for a voluntary servitude." (12/09/2012)

Naftemporiki - Greece

Greek public servants are politicians' protegees

In Greece, several members of the government are opposing the mass dismissals of public servants stipulated by the troika. The conservative daily Naftemporiki deplores the persistent clientelism in the country: "While in the past two years of crisis we have had an ongoing debate about whether and how to reform the public sector, 600,000 people in the private sector have lost their jobs. Not a single minister showed any concern about this trend. … By contrast there is no shortage of members of government who will go to the barricades at the mere thought of any measures against public-sector employees. … The politicians see the enormous loss of jobs in the private sector as a natural consequence of the crisis. At the same time they are willing to do anything to prevent the public sector from being affected - in other words the sector where state clientelism is traditionally most prevalent." (13/09/2012)

SOCIETY

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The Guardian - United Kingdom

Politicians shirked duties in Hillsborough inquest

According to a report presented on Wednesday on the mass panic in Sheffield's Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 in which 96 people died, rescue workers bear partial responsibility for a number of deaths and the police wrongly pinned blame on the fans. The liberal daily The Guardian asks to what extent the government was also to blame: "Yes, we now have evidence that senior government figures were misinformed by senior police officers and by others. The question that remains, however, is how closely did they question any of the police intelligence and advice they received and, indeed, how closely did they want to question it? What we should require of our political leaders is enough integrity and independence of mind always to treat the briefings they receive with a judicious scepticism. It now seems most unlikely, as many will have long assumed, that there was any such scepticism in Downing Street or cabinet in 1989. Certainly, there was enough of a sense of a closing of the ranks to make it feel that there was no appetite for full disclosure of what really took place on that Saturday afternoon." (12/09/2012)

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