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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 14/06/2013

 

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The EU's compromise on free trade talks

France's Minister of Culture Filippetti stressed that audiovisual cultural assets may by no means be included. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

As a concession to Paris, the EU wants to grant the member states some say regarding the audiovisual industries in the negotiations on a free trade agreement with the US. France threatened on Thursday to use its veto to protect its film industry. Some commentators understand France's refusal to put its proud culture on a par with commercial export commodities. Others criticise that too much protectionism would only harm European cultural production.

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

France gives priority to culture over commerce

The potential French veto against the planned free trade agreement between the EU and the US is understandable, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: "France defines itself as a grand cultural nation, whereby it understands culture not just as the fine arts, but also as savoir vivre, a heightened sense of beauty and 'esprit'. Others prefer to own nuclear weapons, to be the world export champion or to usher in the Pacific century: the French console themselves with their culture and don't want it to be treated just like any other commodity, such as drilling machines or lean hogs. ... At the same time, the clash of cultures is the expression of a basic discord. ... With its Latin roots, France has a different, more sceptical attitude to money than Britain or Germany. The triumphal march of capitalism and the marketing of almost every cultural expression meets with a deep sense of unease in France. ... That explains why the promise of a transatlantic free trade agreement is less attractive in France than elsewhere." (13/06/2013)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Protectionism hurts culture

France's demand for exceptions to be made for audiovisual cultural goods in the negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and the United States will be detrimental to the country's culture and won't even help Europe's economy, the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore points out: "On the contrary, a country's roots are strengthened when its culture crosses borders and spreads across the world. Moreover, from an economic perspective one exemption in the trade agreement would automatically lead to the next. Following the logic of the French arguments one could ask why the US doesn't make exceptions with which to protect Californian grape types from imports of Beaujolais and Barolo. This principle applies even more to Italy, whose most profitable export is its culture. The Mole Antonelliana [famous landmark in Turin] can't compare with the Empire State Building. But what would the Italian National Museum of Cinema it houses be without its foreign visitors? … Protectionism is the best way to scare away private investment." (14/06/2013)

Der Standard - Austria

Data protection endangers agreement with US

The real threat to the success of the free trade agreement is not France's opposition, since a compromise will be found for the French film industry, the left-liberal daily Der Standard writes, stressing that data protection will be the true sticking point: "The Europeans fear the power and data hunger of the US Internet giants, who in turn fear the strict laws of the EU and the costs they incur. It will take creativity and pathience to unravel this Gordian knot. But precisely the data scandal involving the US's National Security Agency, which has little to do with economic issues, threatens to turn the fine tuning of technicalities into an ideological conflict that will never lead to an agreement. … Yet a fundamental matter is at stake with these negotiations, namely the economic future of the West. … The coming weeks will show whether the transatlantic partnership is still strong enough to ensure that not just single trees, but the whole forest is protected." (14/06/2013)

POLITICS

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Hürriyet - Turkey

EU should intervene in Turkey's affairs

The Turkish government announced today, Friday, that it will accept a stop to the controversial construction project in Istanbul's Gezi Park in the event that a court ruling to that effect is upheld. The Turkish leadership had been heavily criticised for its hard line against demonstrators, most recently by the EU Parliament, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. The conservative daily Hürriyet welcomes the intervention of the EU in Turkey's domestic affairs: "For the first time the EU felt the need to criticise at an institutional level the fact that pluralism is not functioning in Turkish democracy. … It's an important piece of news that in their speeches [on Wednesday in the EU Parliament] Ashton and Füle voiced strong support for the opening of a new chapter of the accession talks at the end of the month, despite all the difficulties. We can therefore say that as a result the EU will raise its commitment to Turkey and won't be afraid to voice criticism." (14/06/2013)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Common asylum standards for EU at last

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday in Strasbourg in favour of introducing common standards for taking in asylum-seekers. As of mid-2015 asylum applications are to be processed quicker and more fairly. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter welcomes the new standards: "The fact that the EU states have agreed on a common asylum policy is a greater achievement than the news of it leads one to believe. After more than ten years of negotiations that many times threatened to collapse, Cecilia Malmström, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, has managed to put together a historical package of legislation in the last three years. … We can draw hope from the fact that large sections of the guidelines are clearly formulated, leaving the countries far less scope for interpretation. In the distant future the place of arrival should no longer play a role in the assessment or treatment of asylum-seekers within the EU. The step that has now been taken may be small, but it was a steep one." (14/06/2013)

Libération - France

No place for right-wing extremists in France

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault wants to ban the right-wing extremist organisations Jeunesses nationalistes révolutionnaires and Troisième Voie by decree. The five suspects arraigned for the murder of the 18-year-old student Clément Meric are said to be supporters of these movements. The left-liberal daily Libération welcomes the government's initiative: "It can't be said often enough, especially after the tragic and appalling death of Clément Méric: there is no room in a democracy for these hate-filled groups who have nothing else to express but a violence rooted in the worst hours that Europe experienced almost a century ago. The political world must reject en masse these lovers of shaved heads and swastikas, who draw their strength from social misery. Because there is every risk that the radical far right could slowly trace out a path for itself beside what some call the 'institutional' extreme right. Marine Le Pen, who has become the figurehead of a 'modernised' Front National, knows that she too benefits from these groups from which her party can recruit new militants." (14/06/2013)

Sme - Slovakia

Czech PM's days in office could be numbered

Several politicians were taken into provisional custody on suspicions of corruption on Thursday in a major raid on Prague's government offices. Prime Minister Petr Nečas's top aide was also among those arrested. The liberal daily Sme suspects that in the wake of this unprecedented crackdown the days of the Czech head of government are numbered: "The fact that the 'biggest fish' is of all people the prime minister's top aide is immensely explosive. It could cost Nečas his head and lead to the resignation of his entire government. The Czech betting offices will certainly set the odds for early elections before nightfall. That being said, these stormy events come as no surprise. The many cases of corruption that have been investigated in the past two years show that the prosecution and the police are taking matters into their own hands. No doubt Petr Nečas didn't expect that these law enforcement bodies, whose emancipation his government brought about, would ultimately be turned against him." (14/06/2013)

REFLECTIONS

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Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

For Martin Gehlen political Islam is no success story

Political Islam has been unable to make a good show of things so far, writes Middle East correspondent Martin Gehlen in the liberal daily Tagesspiegel with an eye to the civil protests in Turkey, the deathly calm before the elections in Iran and the escalating clash of cultures in Egypt: "Nowhere in the world has political Islam proven that it can create open societies and stable democratic conditions. Nowhere are there more journalists in prison than in Turkey or Iran, not even in the much berated China. Nowhere is there a productive coexistence between Islamic leaders and secular society. Egypt's planned NGO law is above all the expression of a deep distrust, while the harsh jail sentences for employees of political foundations played right into the hands of Islamic leaders on the Nile. ... Because the borders between state responsibility and religious agenda are unclear. State and religion are intertwined and politicised. And the people experience this as an ongoing invasion of their public and personal lives, a trend to militant one-sidedness, cultural monotony and the exclusion of minorities." (13/06/2013)

ECONOMY

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El País - Spain

Bundesbank rails needlessly against ECB

Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann criticised the European Central Bank's bond-buying programme before Germany's Federal Constitutional Court on Tuesday. The judges are currently trying to determine whether the ECB's programme for unlimited buying of government bonds is unconstitutional. The Bundesbank is acting extremely irresponsibly, the left-liberal daily El País writes: "The position of the Bundesbank, which is openly opposing the European Central Bank (ECB) in the constitutional court's proceedings, has triggered an upheaval that is entirely unnecessary and unfounded. … It is not the ECB but the Bundesbank that is exceeding its powers, since it has broken with the policy of discretion that can be expected of a central bank. Financial authorities shouldn't go around telling the whole world about their positions when they know very well that this causes damage on the markets. Such behaviour is what we call irresponsible." (14/06/2013)

SOCIETY

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Jutarnji list - Croatia

Croatian justice needs critical distance

The Croatian media are currently discussing the conduct of several judges who maintain friendly ties with allegedly corrupt figures from politics and the business world. The judges of the future EU member state should keep their distance from those on whom they pass sentence, the left-liberal daily Jutarnji List warns: "It's no wonder the world sees Croatia as a corrupt country. We won't dispel this dishonourable reputation or the concrete causes for it as long as the representatives of justice continue to openly socialise with members of the milieu whose crimes they are supposed to be investigating, prosecuting and punishing. Some judges send the message with their behaviour that their friends on the fringes of the law are socially acceptable people. … Rather than functioning as instruments of the law and the constitutional state, such judges instead promote the very circumstances for which Croatia is known as the 'kingdom of corruption'." (14/06/2013)

Delfi - Latvia

Latvia's "non-citizens" don't want to vote

In the run-up to Latvia's local elections, only 13,000 people took part in the alternative elections to the so-called Non-Citizens' Congress. Latvia is currently home to 300,000 "non-citizens" of predominantly Russian origin. They hold permanent residency permits but have neither Latvian nor any other citizenship. The Internet portal Delfi analyses the failure of the election: "The goal was apparently not to solve the problem of the non-citizens but to escalate the situation in the country. The election of the Non-Citizens' Congress is however entirely in line with Russia's interests - it wants Latvia destabilised. In the eyes of the activists, the election of the Non-Citizens' Congress was the first democratic election in Latvia. … Yet most Latvians didn't even notice the initiative and many Russians simply ignored it. That is quite striking. It proves that the Latvian public is not so easy to influence." (14/06/2013)

MEDIA

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Kathimerini - Greece

Closed public broadcaster divides Greeks

Greek employees protested on Thursday against the government's closure of the public broadcaster ERT with a 24-hour strike and demonstrations. Instead of getting all hot under the collar, people should use the chance to agree on a new broadcasting policy, the conservative daily Kathimerini counsels: "ERT is part of our collective memory, a living archive that accompanies the history of our country. But the shock of the 'black screen' on Tuesday night failed to unite the people. Quite the contrary: it divided them, and sparked a small war on the Internet, among friends and even between young people. There were fierce disputes, envious discords, divisiveness and a lack of solidarity. All the old teething problems resurfaced. Too bad. The government's heavy-handed decision could be the springboard for a serious discussion about what kind of public broadcaster we want." (13/06/2013)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Oversized ERT rightly shut down

Thousands of Greeks demonstrated on Thursday against the closure of the public broadcaster ERT, with widespread strikes and rallies. The liberal business paper Financial Times defends the move by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras: "Claims that Mr Samaras is clamping down on critical voices are off the mark. The decision was made on financial grounds. A new, slimmer broadcaster is expected to open at the end of the summer. ERT's inefficiency is a prime example of what has gone wrong with the public sector in Greece. Decades of politically driven appointments bloated the size of the broadcaster's payroll, doing nothing to improve the quality of its programmes. Workers were hard to fire because of excessive protection. ... Job cuts today are not only needed to help the government's finances. They are a precondition for the public sector to hire again tomorrow." (14/06/2013)

De Groene Amsterdammer - Netherlands

Journalists must clarify economists' stances

In the debate over solutions to the crisis, economic reporters should do a better job of putting the various positions into perspective, the left-liberal weekly paper De Groene Amsterdammer demands: "Journalists often portray the search for truth in economics as a debate. Economist A says this, but economist B doesn't agree. Such a discussion is for the most part not particularly instructive, however. For example, if a majority of astronomers unexpectedly converted to Ptolemaic astronomy, the real news wouldn't be 'opinions are divided', but 'astronomers suffer collective psychosis'. Objectivity is not the balanced portrayal of various positions, but a well-considered appraisal of facts and arguments. By putting all economic controversies into the same boat, the media take too restricted a view of their own job." (14/06/2013)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Adevârul - Romania

Reduce earthquake risks instead of hiding them

The Mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, plans to have an earthquake risk map drawn up for his city. However the map is to remain secret so as to avoid creating a panic. PR expert Raluca Petrescu condemns this as absurd on the blog portal of the daily paper Adevărul: "Mr Oprescu probably believes that publishing the map would cause a generalised hysteria as a result of which the inhabitants of Bucharest will abandon their homes and take to living in tents. Or he thinks people will demand that their apartments are made earthquake-proof. … Even without the map we know that many houses would be flattened in the event of a strong earthquake. … There is already a public list of 380 multi-storey buildings that would most likely collapse. … For my part I would certainly sleep better in my apartment block if the mayor were to declare the renovation of endangered buildings a priority instead of keeping secret information that is of public interest." (14/06/2013)

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