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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 13/11/2012

 

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Euro Group delays help for Athens

IMF chief Lagarde and Euro Group boss Juncker were at odds over reducing Greece's debt burden. (© AP/dapd)

 

The Eurozone finance ministers resolved at their meeting in Brussels on Monday to give Greece two more years to get its public deficit under control. The decision on the next installment of bailout funds was postponed to next week. Commentators write that the creditor countries are simply playing for time and delaying the country's bankruptcy.

Kurier - Austria

Half-hearted help for Greece

The help from the donor countries is half-hearted and ultimately will only postpone Greece's bankruptcy rather than averting it, the liberal daily Kurier writes: "Greece will continue to receive help to avoid its going bankrupt. … However the EU donor countries, including Austria, are turning the whole affair into an undignified spectacle. Because despite the repeated resolutions with each day that passes it becomes clearer that the final act of the Greek tragedy is already playing out. It's just a matter of time before the bankruptcy wolves close in for the kill. How else can we interpret the fact that the finance ministers failed to adopt a resolution at their decisive meeting on Monday, and are waiting until the last minute to give the green light on Wednesday. … But to prevent bankruptcy they're paying out just one instalment of the next tranche, rather than the whole amount. … Europe is just playing for time - and even then it's keeping the price as low as possible. This is not what long-term, sustainable solutions look like." (12/11/2012)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Delay with no guarantee of success

The troika wants to give Greece two more years to consolidate its finances. But that will only postpone a real solution to the problem writes Marcin Mróz, chief economist a the bank BNP Paribas Polska, in a commentary for the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza: "With this move Europe is only trying to buy time in the hope that the situation in Greece will improve through a revival of its economy. But that's a risky bet, and Europe could easily miscalculate. The problems of Greece are the same as in Spain. In both countries drastic programmes have been introduced to consolidate the budget and save money, although that won't produce any economic growth. The programmes are just meant to buy time. ... You push the delay button and hope the economy will revive on its own." (13/11/2012)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Dispute over debt reduction

According to the troika's estimates, by 2016 the delays in reducing Greece's deficit will have cost more than 30 billion euros. But unfortunately there is no consensus on how to compensate for these additional costs, the liberal-conservative business paper Il Sole 24 Ore complains: "The additional costs could be covered partly by reducing debt thanks to lower interest rates and partly by repurchasing debt or extending the maturity deadlines. ... It is no coincidence that the draft version of the troika report lacks a debt sustainability analysis. This is precisely the point on which the international creditors are at odds. The IMF wants a drastic debt restructuring to bring Greece's debt ratio down to 120 percent of the GDP by 2020, whereas the EU Commission and the European Central Bank want to reduce the debts with the aid of less drastic measures." (13/11/2012)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Berlin's Greek policy a failure

Although the troika has given Greece a positive assessment the Eurozone finance ministers have postponed paying the next instalment of bailout funds. Germany is playing for time in view of the upcoming elections and jeopardising more than just Germany's credibility, the left-leaning daily taz argues: "Since October [the German finance minister] Schäuble has known that it will cost even more money to bail out Greece. IMF boss Christine Lagarde gave it to him in writing: the mountain of debt is growing dangerously despite - or because of - the austerity policy. Without a new debt haircut or billions in additional aid Greece simply can't be saved. But with the start of the campaign for the next parliamentary elections, Schäuble and his chancellor prefer to play for time. In doing so they are endangering not only the Greek bailout. They are also jeopardising the credibility of Germany and the entire Eurozone. Merkel and Schäuble must finally recognise that their policy for Greece has failed, and that the bill for that failure will be hefty." (13/11/2012)

POLITICS

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Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Merkel arouses expectations in Portugal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed during her visit to Lisbon that there was no reason to renegotiate Portugal's austerity programme at present. This has aroused certain expectations, the liberal daily Diário de Notícias notes: "Merkel has done a good job of preparing and staging her charm offensive. … She cited former German chancellor Ludwig Erhard (the father of Germany's 'economic miracle' in the post-war period), who used to say that economics was 50 percent psychology. In doing so she was trying to get across the message that the strongest EU partner not only supports Portugal's reform programme but is confident of its success. At a time when we are making great sacrifices and doubting our ability to overcome the recession, impoverishment and rising unemployment with the current austerity policy, Merkel has called for a little more patience. … It has also become clear that the programme won't be renegotiated before its completion - which also arouses expectations: in around six months' time an entire nation will want to know whether economic growth is really making a comeback." (13/11/2012)

Eleftheros Typos - Greece

The fine art of protest in Portugal

Austerity protesters draped black mourning sashes over Lisbon's monuments during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, while an online campaign called on the Portuguese to wear black for the duration of her visit and a hundred intellectuals declared Merkel persona non grata. The conservative daily Eleftheros Typos expresses admiration for Portugal's protest culture: "Here in Greece people are exhausted. They no longer understand what's going on and don't know what to think. What will go through their heads when they hear that 100 artists and intellectuals in Portugal declared Merkel persona non grata in an open letter when her visit was announced? The Greeks look to Portugal and recall that neither the artists nor most intellectuals dared to do such a thing here. On the contrary, our intellectuals called on us in television programmes to stay calm, be obedient and behave like good children." (12/11/2012)

Večer - Slovenia

Slovenians are sick of politics

Former prime minister of Slovenia Borut Pahor won the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, beating the incumbent Danilo Türk. The candidates will face each other in a runoff vote on December 2. But the low turnout of just 48 percent is a clear sign of the Slovenians' weariness of politics, the conservative daily Večer notes: "Despite the calls to work together to improve the situation in the country, not even half of those eligible to vote cast their ballot. … The truth is that none of the three candidates had an idea that caught on with the masses. At least half of the country's citizens are no longer willing to play along with a political spectacle in which only those who like [the current center-right prime minister] Janez Janša and [left-leaning ex-president] Milan Kučan count. In a political landscape which consists only of 'ours' and 'theirs', half of the citizens can't find 'their' candidate. And this is no trifling matter." (13/11/2012)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

The EU's crash landing on emissions trading

In reaction to protests from Russia, China, India and the US, the EU has decided to refrain for the time being from imposing a climate change levy for flights to and from Europe. This is a major defeat for the EU Commission on emissions trading, the Frankfürter Allgemeine Zeitung writes, explaining that the Commission had recognised too late "that in a globalised sector like aviation, climate protection cannot be imposed unilaterally and with brute force. That said, right from the start it was highly contested internationally whether all flights from the EU could be levied for the entire route, as that would mean that a European regulation were valid as far away as the South Seas. ... The authorities in Brussels understimated the international resistance. By persisting with a unilateral approach for so long they have almost managed to entirely discredit an instrument that the airline companies agree on in principle. EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie HedeGaard now talks of 'stopping the watch' on emissions trading. In fact this is nothing less than a crash landing for the Commission." (13/11/2012)

Adevârul - Romania

Corruption shakes up Romanian election campaign

The Romanian parliamentarian Alin Trăşculescu of the Romanian opposition party PDL was caught taking bribes on Saturday. Now the parliament must decide whether to lift his immunity. The affair comes at an inopportune time for the Liberal Democratic Party since it claimed to have purged itself of corruption just under a month before the elections, the daily Adevărul points out: "More than any other party, the PDL had boasted it was excellent at fighting corruption: an organisation busily tackling bribery and clientelism 24/7. The party's ethics committee had also given the MP in question, Alin Trăşculescu, a clean bill of health so he could be on the party ticket. … At the same time not a single controversial [because of corruption] party member was struck from the list. … This latest case of corruption changes the situation dramatically. Now the election campaign will be all about proving that the enemy party has more corrupt members than your own." (13/11/2012)

ECONOMY

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Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Prepare SAS for sale

The ailing airline company SAS, 50 percent of which is owned by Norway, Sweden and Denmark, announced radical austerity plans on Monday. But these measures still won't be enough, the liberal daily Jyllands-Posten writes: "At the moment SAS can't even be privatised because no serious investor would touch it with a barge pole. From an economic point of view it's more sensible to wait for the company to self-destruct, and then take over its lucrative routes. ... For that reason a rescue plan based among other things on taxpayers' money must not be implemented without offering a long-term perspective. Its goal must be not only to bail out SAS, but first and foremost to get the company ready for sale. That will rid it of the state-owned part that has been the source of the company's many ills in the past years." (13/11/2012)

CULTURE

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Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

Klaus jeopardising Czech film industry

Czech President Václav Klaus wants to scrap the planned government funding for filmmakers in his country. His veto against a corresponding law can still be overturned by parliament. Klaus justified his veto on Monday saying among other things that filmmakers were suffering from a lack of creativity rather than a lack of funding. The business paper Hospodářské noviny strongly disagrees: "Of course making a film and receiving money from the state to do it is not a human right. But Klaus's most recent veto is based on the purely ideological arguments we have grown accustomed to hearing from him. This law was preceded by countless debates. … The upshot is a compromise that expresses parliament's conviction that Czech film deserves support. Klaus is concealing his true motivation behind the argument that the filmmakers 'lack creativity'. What he is really saying is that the films don't deserve money from the state because the president doesn't like them. This is the first time that matters of aesthetic taste are influencing a legislative process." (13/11/2012)

SOCIETY

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El Huffington Post - Spain

Civil society can stop evictions

The leading politicians of the major Spanish parties met on Monday to discuss the widespread problem of people being evicted from their homes because they can no longer keep up with their mortgage payments. A wise step that however was only possible thanks to pressure from the people: "If the task of politics is basically to solve problems this week will be decisive for our politicians because they will have the chance to improve their battered image by finding a way to prevent hundreds of families from losing their homes. If they manage to do this we will congratulate them. But without forgetting that it was civil society - those affected, the groups and platforms that emerged to support them and give voice to their complaints, the lawyers and judges who have helped their cause and even the police and the locksmiths who said they had had enough - that made such a solution possible in the first place. This is civil society; this is democracy!" (13/11/2012)

Le Monde - France

Don't banish old cars from Paris

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, proposed on Monday that cars over 17 years old should be banned from the city in a bid to improve air quality. On the blog L'interconnexion n'est plus assurée, published on the website of the left-liberal daily Le Monde, Olivier Razemon writes that there are better ways to tackle the problem: "Is it right to widen the gap between those who want to breathe fewer exhaust fumes to increase their own comfort, and those who, out of necessity or because they've never learned otherwise, must use their cars every day? ... Several alternatives emerge from the commentaries and on Facebook. For example, owners of old cars could be obliged to share them with their neighbours during the (long) periods when they don't use them. Or these car owners could be made to park their vehicles in underground parking lots to free up the roads. Or we could suggest to the public authorities that they finally introduce the scrapping bonus they've been discussing for so long." (13/11/2012)

MEDIA

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Blog Nick Robinson - United Kingdom

Auntie Beeb inviolable

Having resigned in the wake of scandals after just under two months as BBC director-general, George Entwistle is to receive a golden handshake of 450,000 pounds. The announcement caused a storm of protest on Monday. The BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson writes on his blog that "Auntie Beeb", as the broadcaster is known, is still considered sacred by politicians despite all the scandals it has been through: "Neither the prime minister nor the leader of the opposition said anything about it. David Cameron chaired a Cabinet meeting in Bristol and faced questions at one of his Cameron Direct meetings. He chose to say nothing about the BBC or the pay-off. Ed Miliband did a series of interviews for the ITV regions. He also said nothing on the subject. ... All this is due to something leading politicians and BBC mandarins understand but is a mystery to most licence fee payers. Neither government nor Parliament runs the BBC even though MPs do vote every few years to preserve the BBC. ... In theory the government could sack the chairman of the BBC Trust. … [But] there is not the slightest chance of this happening." (13/11/2012)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

Lithuanian Petraeus wouldn't have to resign

David Petraeus, the head of the CIA who is highly respected in his home country, resigned on Friday over an extramarital affair. In Lithuania he wouldn't have had to do anything of the sort, writes the daily Lietuvos rytas: "For many Lithuanians it's hard to imagine such a situation. What happened? Ah, you know, he added a bit of spice to what had likely become an unappetising marriage. These things happen. But leaving a job at the CIA over something like that? The two things have nothing to do with each other. Or to put it another way, an affair like that would only prove to us that the agent isn't just another limp rag but a real Lithuanian James Bond: he protects the country and also finds the time to demonstrate his manliness. Here at home we'd even vote for a guy like that." (13/11/2012)

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