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Europe

European Press Review: Enforcing the Rules

Europe's papers focused on the European Court of Justice's ruling, which overturned a vote by EU finance ministers to block sanctions on Germany and France for breaking EU stability pact rules on budget deficits.

The Financial Times Deutschland from Hamburg championed France and Germany, and disparaged the stability pact for forcing countries to save more despite a miserable economic climate. "Those countries can't hope to fix their budget deficits in the face of sinking tax revenue and growing social welfare payments," the paper wrote.

The Dutch paper De Volkskrant was tougher on France and Germany, and called the court's ruling a victory for the Netherlands because "without clear agreements that the rules apply to everyone, the big countries could play by their own rules." The paper went on to say that the court would have really done Europe a service, if it had demanded that Germany and France be punished.

De Telegraaf, also from the Netherlands, agreed that a pact such as the EU's Growth and Stability Pact should be binding. "The Netherlands, as holder of the current EU Presidency, must make sure that in the future, it is binding," the paper said.

Most other papers took a moderate position, praising the court's ruling. Der Standard from Vienna wrote that "the decision could be the beginning of the overdue reform of the stability pact, which is rigid and almost dead." The paper commented that the "best-case scenario would be if the European Commission and the finance ministers were to come to a new stability pact that encourages economic growth, rather than gets in its way."

Le Figaro in Paris said that the ruling made it clear that countries have to keep to the contracts they've signed, but doesn't stop them from changing those contracts. The paper said the decision was typical of the way Europe makes progress, "from contract to

contract."

The Tages-Anzeiger from Geneva put the economic ball back in the court of the finance ministers. "Critics say Europe's economic models are senile and over-regulated," the paper wrote, adding that proving those critics wrong is the duty of the politicians, not the judges.