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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 10/01/2013



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Ireland's presidency a chance for EU

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said it would be "disastrous" if Britain exited the EU. (© AP/dapd)


EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy visited Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin on Wednesday. At the beginning of Ireland's EU Council presidency both leaders spoke out against Britain leaving the EU and warned against reopening the discussion over the EU treaties. The negotiations on the EU budget have the potential to cause a great deal of conflict in the next six months, commentators fear, and pin their hopes on the mediating skills of the Irish.

Badische Zeitung - Germany

Irish can trump as mediators

The Irish will start their seventh EU Council presidency under the motto 'Stability, Growth, Jobs'. That sounds a bit like whistling in the breeze, the Badische Zeitung jokes, but admits that Ireland's mediation skills could serve Europe well: "There is no sign whatsoever of a sustained economic upswing and at the start of the year there are growing indications that [Prime Minister] Kenny's citizens, who have until now been willing to make sacrifices, are starting to lose patience. ... For that reason successes on the European front would suit the government well. The Irish want to do their bit for society, so that the medium-term financial plan that failed in November can now be brought into effect. Of course that means overcoming the differences between the free-spending EU Commission and the net contributors, including Ireland's constantly moaning neighbour Britain. In addition Dublin wants to push ahead with the schedule for the planned banking union within the Eurozone. The Irish enjoy a good reputation as mediators in Brussels." (10/01/2013)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Dublin wants to prevent "Brexit" at all costs

Preventing a potential British exit from the EU will be the main task of Ireland's EU Council presidency, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza believes: "Until recently the EU was afraid of a Grexit - Greece's exiting the Eurozone. Now the word 'Brexit' is on everyone's lips: the fear that Britain will leave the EU is growing with every day that passes. 'As far as we can influence, we'll defend UK membership', the Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore announced. The Irish politicians fear that the referendum on relaxing ties with Brussels that Prime Minister David Cameron wants to organise for 2015 could become a plebiscite for or against leaving the EU. Of all the European countries, the Irish are the ones who know their British colleagues best. ... For that reason the Irish Council presidency wants to shape Britain's special status (for example in the areas of security and justice) in such a way that an escalation between Brussels and London can be avoided." (10/01/2013)

La Vanguardia - Spain

Fear of Irish egoism

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy discussed on Wednesday the problems that need to be resolved in the EU. The greatest challenge for Ireland will be to bring its own interests in line with those of the European Union, the daily paper La Vanguardia writes: "One of Dublin's principal goals will be to advance the banking union because it needs a solution to the problems of its own banks and its public debt to avoid having to apply for another bailout this year. The need to bring its search for solution to its own problems in harmony with its obligation to defend Europe's general interests will be the biggest challenge of its six-month presidency. … The Irish request [for a special arrangement for getting its banks back on track] may be justified, but using its presidency to resolve its own problems is not something one would expect of a country that has so far given so many demonstrations of exemplary behaviour." (10/01/2013)

Ziare - Romania

Romania fears EU budget negotiations

In taking over the rotating EU presidency, Ireland must also deal with the struggle over the new EU budget, news website Ziare comments, fearing this will have negative repercussions for Romania: "The budget negotiations will grow more difficult because Ireland wants to distribute the regional funds among a greater number of states. It wants not just less developed EU regions like Eastern Europe and Romania to receive funding, but also countries like Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Poland. However this means Romania may lack partners in its call for the EU budget to remain at its present level. … Without a coherent strategy and without a lobby Romania won't be able to play its trump cards and will have to make do with the crumbs left over by the power games of the established countries." (10/01/2013)

The Irish Independent - Ireland

Don't be deceived by myth of Europe

The hymns of praise sung by the Irish government to the European project are just hot air, the left-liberal daily Irish Independent writes, accusing the EU of a lack of understanding as far as democracy is concerned: "The event conformed with myth-making which is part of our current self-evaluation as it is also that of the EU. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to our European/EU rulers was the latest bit of such myth-making, an attempt to create the erroneous idea that Europe's great contribution over the past 60 years has fostered peace where there was war and has spread democracy, protecting and enhancing it. The EU has not done that. Democracy has been diminished not enhanced. We do not elect those who primarily govern us. We are now governed by EU bureaucrats unelected and overweening in their arrogance. Others have fought the wars establishing peace." (07/01/2013)


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Bonner Generalanzeiger - Germany

Southern Europe needs reforms, not bailouts

According to the EU's most recent social report a gap between Northern and Southern Europe has emerged. The causes have been known for some time now and cannot be fought with bailouts, the Bonn-based daily Generalanzeiger concludes: "Outdated and inflexible social systems, an inefficient healthcare apparatus, an overblown administration - these are the factors that have led companies to uncouple themselves first from their competitors and then from the social problems. This analysis is important because it shows that the difficulties cannot be overcome simply with money or bailout funds. Reforms remain crucial: political corrective measures that create resilient structures. Only then can competitive companies invest and create jobs. It may be pleasing that the EU Commission has described Germany as exemplary. But all this praise distracts from the fact that the restructuring of the social system, the corrections in the health and pension policy, were no picnic." (10/01/2013)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Amnesty for Czech swamp of corruption

The amnesty announced by Czech President Vaclav Klaus applies among others to defendants whose trial has lasted longer than eight years and whose sentence is not expected to exceed ten years. The liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung finds this questionable in that certain trials have gone on for so long because "in the Czech Republic the political will has been lacking to clear up affairs that lead to the higher levels of politics and administration. The 1990s are regarded as a dark period. … The powerful cartel that the conservative Klaus formed together with his political opponent, the Social Democrat Zeman, to put the remaining competition out of the running resulted in the creation of a swamp of corruption which still afflicts the Czech Republic today. In the process of emancipating itself from politics, the judiciary has only gradually begun to shed light on earlier affairs. Article II of the amnesty deals a blow to these efforts and sets the country back. It is hardly plausible that an incisive analyst like Klaus would have been unaware of this connection when the amnesty was formulated." (10/01/2013)

Finance - Slovenia

Slovenia's leading politicians must resign

Slovenia's anti-corruption authority has accused Prime Minister Janez Janša and the leader of the opposition Zoran Janković of repeatedly neglecting their duty to inform the authority of any changes in their financial circumstances. Columnist Stanislav Kovač calls for their resignation in the business paper Finance: "The anti-corruption authority has detected violations of the law, lacking transparency in their dealings and suspected abuses of power on the part of the country's two leading politicians, Janša and Janković. If the two don't resign they send the following message to society: break the law, do shady dealings and ignore the findings of the investigative authorities! Such behaviour on the part of politicians leads to the decay of a state's written and unwritten social norms. For this reason Janša and Janković must assume responsibility and step down. Otherwise Slovenia could sink into a state of chaos, which could also lead to the total breakdown of the system." (10/01/2013)

La Repubblica - Italy

Obama dispenses with women in his cabinet

US Labour Secretary Hilda Solis announced her resignation on Wednesday, leaving just two female ministers in the cabinet of US President Barack Obama. This is a bitter disappointment for the women who helped Obama win the election, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica writes: "The photo of the group gathered around the oval table in the Cabinet Room increasingly looks like the board of a chauvinistic golf club than a picture of the gender diversity women had rightly expected from Barack Obama. It's a disappointment, if not an insult. Malicious tongues are blaming Valerie Jarrett, a lawyer [and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement] who has been a muse, babysitter and ideological guide for Obama for decades. She is said not to tolerate any other women around the president. The more simple and cynical explanation for the composition of Obama's team should be sought elsewhere: because he no longer needs to run against a rival he no longer needs to take the polls into consideration when choosing his staff." (10/01/2013)


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Público - Portugal

Lisbon lets IMF play the scapegoat

The International Monetary Fund has calculated that highly indebted Portugal will need to cut public spending by another four billion euros. According to a report published on Wednesday, cuts in the areas of education and healthcare as well as pensions are necessary. The liberal daily Público accuses the government of evading its responsibilities: "It is not the government that is launching the most profound and complex reform the country faces, but unknown financial experts. … This is why we are discussing a document that is too technical and unrealistic instead of a politically and socially viable report. It's a ticking time bomb because it targets the structure of groups like the police, pensioners and teachers. … But the IMF didn't just invent these figures and everyone knows that this is the political and ideological programme that the government would also like to introduce. … Even if the recommendations are questionable, this diagnosis is useful. It shows beyond question that many things must change in our state for Portugal to become a healthy place with a future once more." (10/01/2013)

Világgazdaság - Hungary

Hungary stuck in the crisis

The volume of Hungarian industrial production went down by 6.9 percent in November 2012 and the Hungarian economy has been in a recession since last year. The decline in industrial production is an indicator that the economic crisis in Hungary is far from over, the business paper Világgazdaság concludes: "The massive decline in industrial production is worrying because industrial export has long been the one sector that can at least ameliorate the recession. Consumption is not reviving because the [conservative government's] restrictive budget policy leaves it without anything to feed on. And on top of that the real wages are sinking. At the same time the volume of investments is at a very low level. The reason: because of the general uncertainty and the unpredictable economic policy companies are acting with extreme caution." (09/01/2013)


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Ta Nea - Greece

Smog over Athens symbolises disaster

After the Greek government raised the tax on heating oil, many Greeks started heating their homes with wood this winter. Athens' Medical Association has already warned of the consequences of firewood smog. Kostis Papaioannou, member of the National Commission for Human Rights, complains in the left-liberal daily Ta Nea of the backwardness that has Greece firmly in its grip: "This smog is the most visible example of the huge backwardness of our country. It's like a sudden journey back in time. Greece has fallen decades behind, and sees Ceauşescu's Romania when it looks in the mirror. Heating systems have been turned off downtown and in the suburbs, and people are using their fireplaces and ovens to heat themselves instead. Families trying to stay warm with small electric heaters are the symbol of a general change in everyday life. Families restrict their activities to a single heated room. ... People who venture downtown stick to the bare essentials. ... This smog is indicative of the dark future of the recession, and will hang in the air irrespectively of the momentary ups and downs in the national economy." (09/01/2013)

Karjalainen - Finland

Finns must work longer

Several experts and entrepreneurs have spoken out recently in favour of raising the retirement age in Finland above the current 63. The liberal daily Karjalainen also sees this step as unavoidable: "Those who want to retire tomorrow or next year can't be clapped with an extra two years just like that. Both the unions and the politicians must be clear about this, as must all those who are now yearning to retire. Nevertheless the time has come to start getting used to the idea of a gradual lengthening of our working life. The retirement age of 63 is not written in stone. And anyway, most of the people who are due to retire in the next few years already assume that retirement will actually begin at 65, as even today that's the age set for receiving the social pension." (10/01/2013)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Prevent youth crime in Sweden

Swedish television on Wednesday presented statistics indicating that juvenile delinquency is far more prevalent in smaller cities than previously believed. What's needed is more investment in crime prevention, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten contends: "When it comes to youth crime it's always easy to call on the police. But we should understand that the police are only part of the puzzle. Social services, schools, recreational facilities and associations all have the ability to do prophylactic work. The key thing is to both provide care where needed and set clear limits. Municipal politicians also bear responsibility here. The fact is that the funds spent on prevention are modest in relation to the cost of crime. These statistics will have repercussions on future planning. In part more consideration must be given to smaller cities, and in part the available funding must be earmarked for preventive measures." (10/01/2013)

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