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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 22/09/2015

 

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Scandal over exhaust emissions at VW

The Environmental Division of the US Justice Department is apparently looking into whether VW is involved in criminal dealings. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The US Justice Department is investigating German carmaker Volkswagen, according to news reports. The company admitted on the weekend that it had manipulated emissions tests for diesel vehicles in the US. Germany's much touted reliability has been exposed as a myth, some journalists comment. Others say consumers are also to blame for the shoddy work in the automotive industry.

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

VW scandal tarnishes Germany's image

Volkswagen symbolises everything German: precision, honesty, the successful German economy and a social peace that nonetheless doesn't stifle innovation, comments the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny: "But now another characteristic must be added to the list: side-stepping rules. The scandal over US diesel engines with dream emissions - but only in tests - is huge. No amount of words of deep regret from company boss Martin Winterkorn will put things right. German cars - whether rightly or wrongly - are seen as a symbol of honesty by the entire car industry. Volkswagen is trying to smooth over the scandal in America with a large-scale recall operation. But after this fraud many Americans will say: You too, Brutus?" (22/09/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy

Who else is cheating at the expense of the environment?

By manipulating its emissions values German carmaker Volkswagen has committed a double betrayal, the centre-left daily La Repubblica rails: "This is a betrayal of the global myth of German uprightness and the cult of reliability of the world's biggest and most popular carmaker. The disclosure of emissions-fixing has quickly taken on far graver dimensions than simply the humiliation of a company that overtook Toyota for the first time in the first half of 2015. … Because this emissions measurement fraud comes at a time when the whole world is making an effort to limit the damage wreaked by pollution. This raises the worrying question of how many manipulated measuring instruments there are of which we are not aware? And if even the Germans, who are always so eager to lecture others on honesty, are cheating, who can be trusted nowadays?" (22/09/2015)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Politicians still fawning over carmakers

Following the Volkswagen Group's admission that emmissions tests had been manipulated the value of shares in the company dropped by more than 20 percent on Monday. But just as alarming as Volkswagen's audacity is the German government's reaction to the scandal, the left-leaning daily taz chides: "What the responsible Ministry of Transport is not doing is quickly setting up investigations similar to those that led to the discovery of the scandal in the US, so as to clear up whether illegal manipulations have also taken place in Europe. Instead the government is in all seriousness demanding that VW provide it with information about whether it has also committed fraud in Germany. And that's all for now. Such naivete, such helplessness is shocking. Unfortunately, however, it's symptomatic of the German government's dealings with the carmaker: instead of introducing controls and regulations, the government regularly acts as its highest-placed interest group." (22/09/2015)

Wirtschaftsblatt - Austria

Consumers' tightness also to blame

The Volkswagen scandal also casts a shadow on the behaviour of consumers, who always want to buy things as cheaply as possible, comments the liberal business daily Wirtschaftsblatt: "Everything is produced on a tight budget and by as few workers as possible, who as a result have less time to do their work. And costs are also cut when it comes to materials. Taken together these factors ultimately lead to low-quality products. We like to make fun of the bad quality of products and the resulting consequences, but perhaps we should stop and think about how our own buying behaviour and wishes contribute to this problem. After all, the modern consumer wants everything to be immediately available - and at low prices of course." (22/09/2015)

POLITICS

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Politiken - Denmark

Exodus to Europe: quota system hardly stands a chance

One goal of today's summit of EU interior and justice ministers in Brussels is to settle the question of how 120,000 refugees are to be distributed in Europe. The centre-left daily Politiken is not optimistic: "The problems are piling up and the question of binding quotas for the distribution of refugees has divided the EU to such an extent that it looks very much like the idea will be dropped. ... Certainly it's possible that those who oppose this system could be outvoted by a qualified majority. That, however, would be a slap in the face for several member states and a serious violation of the basic EU principle whereby sweeping resolutions must be reached by consensus. And the attempt to overrule the will of a number of EU countries would be a boon for all EU opponents and Eurosceptics as it would only confirm their prejudices." (22/09/2015)

Sme - Slovakia

No one's afraid of Alexis Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Greek Prime Minister in Athens on Monday. But Europe's political establishment is no longer afraid of him like it was back in January, the liberal daily Sme observes: "When the Syriza party won a clear victory in the parliamentary elections eight months ago, it seemed that Europe was facing big problems: the collapse of the Eurozone, a recession, the gradual collapse of the European institutions and the growing influence of Russia. None of this happened. All that happened was endless negotiations which, according to Tsipras, changed Europe. But in reality they changed him. The radical left swam against the current for as long as it could until it realised how dangerous this could be … Yes, even a Marxist can convey the impression of stability in today's Europe." (22/09/2015)

Libération - France

Syriza bolstering the European left

This new victory for Alexis Tsipras's leftist Syriza party in Greece will strengthen the European left in the fight for a people-friendly Europe, the centre-left daily Libération writes in delight: "A victory for the reformist left. How else to describe Alexis Tsipras's remarkable success? ... The rejection of Europe that we are seeing in several countries is not written in stone. … Contrary to what we are hearing and reading, the Greek government received compensation for accepting Brussels' demands: immediate, substantial loans, and the prospect of debt relief further down the line. Above all, however, the fight continues for another European policy that is less involved with finances and closer to popular interests. In this difficult struggle, the Greeks' choice bolsters the European left." (21/09/2015)

eldiario.es - Spain

Divorce battle between Spain and Catalonia

Luis María Linde, chairman of the Spanish Central Bank, has threatened to freeze accounts if Catalonia decides to separate from Spain. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, retaliated saying that Catalonia would then stop servicing its part of Spain's national debt. The leftist website eldiario.es calls for more seriousness in the debate about Catalan independence: "It's difficult to say which of the two nationalisms is more wrong: the 'magic separatism' that ignores the consequences for the economy and believes that the break with Spain will solve all the Catalans' problems, or the Spanish nationalism that predicts the seven plagues, the apocalypse and the end of civilisation in Catalonia. … A divorce always has its price, both emotionally and economically. But a little more seriousness on the part of the defenders of Spanish unity is called for, who on the one hand are trying to persuade the Catalans yet on the other hand ban them from voting. If you want to persuade someone of something, you have to accept the right of that person to decide whether they have been persuaded by your arguments or not." (22/09/2015)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Duda meddling in election campaign

Poland's President Andrzej Duda introduced a bill in parliament on Monday aimed at lowering the retirement age for women to 60 and men to 65. The current government raised the retirement age for both sexes to 67. The conservative daily Rzeczpospolita criticises Duda's intervention: "By presenting such a radical proposal, the head of state is massively interfering in the campaign. One month before the election, he's presented a topic with all the explosive force of a nuclear bomb. In proposing a reduction in the retirement age, he can be sure of popular support. ... And the party that supports this project will get ahead in the polls. It's clear that if anyone stands to benefit from the proposal it's [Duda's party] the PiS. Clearly the move is central to its election campaign." (22/09/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Russia - Russia

Exodus to Europe: Vitaly Portnikov fears the fear of the foreign

It is not the presence of foreigners that should worry Europeans in these times of the largest wave of migration since World War II, but the fact that this fear of foreigners exists at all, warns Ukrainian-Jewish journalist Vitaly Portnikov on the website of the Russian service of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty: "I belong to the nation of refugees. For how many centuries did we wander from city to city and country to country on Europe's roads? … What they said about us is virtually the same as what is being said about the Arabs today. Our religion was strange, our traditions were uncivilised, our language was incomprehensible. … I am not afraid of refugees. I am afraid of those who seek the causes of disaster among foreigners rather than among themselves. … Compassion is one of the values that made the post-war continent, a world full of refugees, the Europe it is today. If we turn our backs on this value there will not only be no more Schengen. There will be no more Europe." (18/09/2015)

ECONOMY

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Infowar - Greece

Only Tsipras can do what troika demands

Sunday's election result is good news for the creditors who brought Alexis Tsipras to agree to their terms, the alternative website Infowar explains: "Without doubt the true winners of the election are Berlin and Greece's creditors. Not because now there is only one party in parliament that opposes the austerity programme, namely the communists, but because Tsipras is the only politician who can implement the inhumane austerity programme demanded by the troika. It was always the 'Socialists' and the social democrats who undertook such difficult tasks in the past - tasks which the right-wing parties couldn't have pushed through without major resistance from the people. The [social democratic] Pasok party presided over the largest number of privatisations in the history of this country. Pasok allowed Greece to be smashed to pieces against the rocks of the euro. Pasok brought in the troika for the first time and turned Greek into a debt colony." (21/09/2015)

SOCIETY

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Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Exodus from Europe: Children being exploited

Two children sustained injuries during clashes on the Hungarian-Serbian border near Röszke when they were thrown over the fence between the two countries, according to the Hungarian authorities. Children are being unscrupulously exploited by some refugees, Csaba Lukács comments in outrage in the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet: "Parents who have been brought up in the Christian tradition will even risk their lives to protect their children. It would never occur to them to throw their children over a fence. Explaining such things as irrational behaviour on the part of people who find themselves in a desperate situation strikes me as dubious: the suffering child is being used as an instrument to serve a clear purpose. Observers are supposed to feel pity, since those who suffer are always in the right. And unfortunately the media serve as partners in this dirty war." (21/09/2015)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Exodus to Europe: Cost-benefit analyses inappropriate

The refugee problem is generally examined mainly from a cost-benefit perspective in Sweden, author Torbjörn Elenensky writes in the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten, arguing that this distorts the issue: "We're told that we need the refugees so they can take over our work when we retire and because they do the jobs we don't want to do. ... What kind of a view of humanity is that? Who are we trying to convince? The biggest problem with such arguments is also that they're wrong. We don't need more workers - technological developments are increasingly reducing the number of jobs on the market. ... If we justify taking in refugees with the argument that we need workers, the opposite can easily be proved as well. It's dangerous to base political assumptions on false premises, because then politics in general will lose its credibility. Taking in refugees is quite simply an irrefutable moral obligation." (22/09/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Cameron's sex games not the real scandal

A biography of British Prime Minister David Cameron by one of his old friends contains an allegation that Cameron inserted "a private part of his anatomy" into the mouth of a dead pig during an initiation ceremony when he was studying at Oxford University. As regards social tradition the incident is highly revealing, writes the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger: "The eccentricity of British scandals is the result of an intact class society. Sociologists describe it as follows: the lower class has a lot of sex, but straightforward sex, the middle class hardly ever has sex (it works), and the upper class has a lot of sex, but of an eccentric nature. It is the privilege of members of the upper classes to be found having suffocated to death in a rubber suit. And Cameron's anecdote with the head of a decapitated pig is an upper class scandal. ... The book will put Cameron in the wrong light as it says little about his policy of social welfare cuts. ... The indecent thing about class politics is not the private part but the public part." (22/09/2015)

MEDIA

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Õhtuleht - Estonia

Estonian journalists want answers from Kiev

Ukraine's blacklist also features two Russian-speaking journalists from Estonia. Pavel Ivanov, chief editor of the Russian-language website Vecherka criticises this in the tabloid Õhtuleht: "Marianna Tarassenko and Andrei Babin are surprised to see their names on the list. Even if they have no desire to travel to Ukraine they still want to know why their names are on it. This question is of interest to all the other Russian-speaking journalists too. One can hardly imagine that Ukraine's presidential office is constantly following the Russian-language media in Estonia. Was the decision made on the basis of their reporting in recent years? They are looking for a traitor. … Anyone who reads the articles of these authors would think twice about inviting such guests. But although they can't be wrong about the facts (there simply are no facts), emotions are something that everyone can make public." (22/09/2015)

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