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Europe

European Press Review: Europe's Ill Man

European editorials on Wednesday looked at the struggling German economy among a variety of other issues.

In its frontpage coverage of a report by six think tanks, the Financial Times in London noted that it’s the most severe criticism of politically sensitive reforms yet levelled at Chancellor Gerhard Schröder by economists. By dampening hopes of a swift turnaround in the labor market, it wrote, the study could spark a new debate about the need for even more radical reforms.

El Pais in Madrid found Germany becoming the chronically ill man of Europe and named reunification as the main reason for its economic weakness. It’s proved a heavy burden even for so strong and disciplined a society as Germany’s. But Schröder’s policies add to the rigidity, the paper thought.

In Paris, Le Monde made a front page comparison between economic reforms in France and Germany, commenting that the French prefer reports about reforms to reforms, and words to deeds. The paper discussed a report by Michel Camdessus, the former director of the International Monetary Fund, on the danger of France losing international competitiveness. The paper noted that in Germany
Chancellor Schröder was long attacked for the kind of reforms France also needs, but his popularity ratings are now rising again.

De Volkskrant in Holland saw the French president, Jacques Chirac, committing political suicide with his plan to hold a referendum on the European constitution. No-one’s talking about a third term for him any more and the predominant view is that he’s got no chance against his rival, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Il Messaggero in Rome saw eight European airlines hoping for the death of Italy’s national carrier, Alitalia, so that they can carve up routes and passengers between them after it’s gone. Commenting on complaints to the European Commission about a bail out plan involving Italian tax funds, the paper singled out Germany’s Lufthansa and British Airways as the keenest for the spoils. War has been declared, wrote the paper, and only a fast ruling by the Commission will be able to stave off a serious conflict in European skies.

Information in Denmark said the Americans need to admit two things to themselves in Iraq. One: their presence as such, rather than the plan to bring democracy is the major motive of the rebellion. Two: instead of constantly humiliating the Iraqi people by using military might, they should be shown respect and be given the experience that they have the last word in their country. The Copenhagen paper thought the promise to pull out after elections were held won’t guarantee orderly conditions in Iraq.

Commenting on the kidnapping in Iraq of British aid worker, Margaret Hassan, the Daily Telegraph in London called for steadfastness. It wrote that to cooperate in the evil of the kidnappers by seeking to reward them would betray whatever good people like Margaret Hassan had achieved.The Badische Neueste Nachrichten in Karlsruhe thought it’s an unbelievable scandal that four years after the debacle of the last American presidential election there is still no electoral technology in Florida and elsewhere that is beyond any doubt. If the outcome on the second of November is not clear, predicted the paper, the US will face strife that will put in the pale the chaos after the elections in 2000.