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Europe

European Press Review: Bad Neighbors?

European editorials on Monday looked at the suspicious explosion in North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as proposals to coordinate tax policy throughout the EU.

The Independent in London wrote that North Korea represents a link between the Cold War and the age of global terrorism. Its rulers have shown a willingness to sell armaments for cash. The regime has also proven itself to be a calculating global blackmailer. It trumpets its nuclear capabilities in order to extract aid in return for shutting down its reactors. The daily wasted no words when it stated that North Korea is very obviously more of a threat to the world than Saddam Hussein ever was.

Looking at another country with nuclear ambitions, the Financial Times wrote that Iran is back in the line of fire as the International Atomic Energy meets to discuss its nuclear program. The US wants the agency to refer Tehran to the United Nations Security Council as a prelude to sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s presumed nuclear ambitions. But the paper admonished that this is not yet the time to wield that weapon. Washington and its European allies still have other options to explore. Iran has said it wants nuclear energy for peaceful purposes but US President George W. Bush says it is developing a bomb. The paper proposed that the US join the European Union in offering Iran nuclear fuel at fair rates in return for an end to the uranium enrichment program.

Looking to the European Union, Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper commented on what it sees as the defeat of Germany and France as EU leaders discuss proposals to co-ordinate tax policy throughout the 25 member countries. France and Germany have complained that some of the new EU member states from Eastern Europe use lower tax rates to persuade companies to relocate factories and jobs. But the paper said that "the entrepreneurs in our country can sleep soundly as in the foreseeable future they will give only a small part of what they earn to the state." This will encourage further investment and create conditions for fast economic growth. The paper condemned Germany and France for trying to solve their own economic

and social problems at the expense of their European neighbors. Forcing Poland and other Central European states to lower their taxes would not make Germany and France more competitive against India and China which have even lower labor costs.

The German paper Saarbrücker Zeitung labeled the lower taxes in new EU states a thorn in the eye for Germany and France: This means that the two countries are not competitive against the newer EU members. More German and French companies shift to Central Europe because of lower production costs which in turn benefits the economic growth of the new EU members. Tax harmony should not be imposed by force, it concluded. Turning to Africa, Danish daily Politiken wrote about US Secretary of State Colin Powell calling the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region a genocide. The paper praised Powell, saying that the he has left no doubt in the minds of those listening as to who the guilty parties are -- namely the Sudanese government and the Arab militias or Janjaweed. The daily continued that if the UN agrees with the US in accepting that what is happening in Sudan is genocide and not a national dispute then for the first time there is hope for those still living in Darfur.