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German Press Review: "After Cancun, there are only Losers"

German editorialists on Tuesday focused on the breakdown of the WTO talks in Cancun and Sweden’s decision to stay out of the euro zone.

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EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy: "The Doha round of trade talks is in intensive care."

Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted a furious EU Trade Commissioner who described the World Trade Organization as "positively medieval." It certainly has an extremely complex structure, according to which all 148 members have to agree unanimously on every step taken, the paper commented and added that continuing with such a strict principle of consensus will make the WTO irrelevant. Reform is essential, the paper concluded.

"After Cancun, there are only losers," wrote Cologne’s Stadt-Anzeiger. The paper was of the opinion that developing countries, which had placed so much hope on the opening of the agriculture markets, have lost out the most. But it stressed that the industrial nations haven’t won either, because they won’t now be getting access to growing markets. Cancun was expected to give a boost to the world economy, the paper commented. Instead the opposite has happened, and the European Union and the United States are to blame for this disaster. All those noble words in Doha in 2001 about the liberalization of world trade in agriculture products, commodities, and services have not been translated into actions, the paper said.

Strong agriculture exporters like Brazil or India could, if need be, go it alone on the world market, wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau. But the poorest countries on earth need a regime that ensures their products fair access to the world market. The alternative is for the European Union and the United States to continue to make bilateral agreements. But when a powerful economic bloc like this is haggling with a handful of developing countries, it’s clear who’s going to dictate the contents. A moderate liberalization of the WTO would be the lesser evil, the paper suggested.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten turned to Sweden’s rejection of the euro in Sunday’s referendum. When will Paris and Berlin finally realize that they will only convince people of the usefulness of this new currency if economic stability remains a top priority, the paper questioned. First Denmark, now Sweden – will Britain be next? The ‘No’ from Stockholm is not a permanent setback, but it’s certainly a serious warning, the paper commented.

The Kölner Rundschau agreed that the rejection of the euro can largely be blamed on France and Germany for their failure to stay within the financial restrictions of the economic stability pact. This is providing ammunition to euroskeptics in Sweden, Denmark, and Great Britain in particular, the paper commented, adding that there’s also growing anxiety in the new member states over this nonchalant disregard of international treaties. The European Commission must fulfil its responsibility to make even the mightiest member states keep their promises with regard to economic and political solidarity. The stability pact is on the line, the paper warned, and with it the long-term success of the euro.

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