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Europe

German Press Review: EU Budget Row No Coincidence

German papers on Wednesday commented on calls by Germany and other countries to cap the European Union's budget after expansion.

Analyzing the budget letter from the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argued that the new dispute within the EU could have been sensed long before. “Already when the EU’s enlargement was decided, the paper wrote, it was clear that the conflict between the costs of enlargement on the one side and the net creditors’ need to limit their payments on the other would break out at some time.” The time has come, the paper stated: “Now the EU will have to decide which expenses are really necessary.”

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung believed that the timing of the letter was no coincidence as it draws a clear link between the current row over money and the failure of the EU summit last weekend aimed at agreeing on a constitution. Let’s not forget, the paper said, that “those countries which most opposed changing the power structure within the EU are the ones who would most profit

from higher expenses, and those are Poland and Spain. Solidarity has its price – that’s the message between the lines of the letter”, the paper commented, predicting that the dispute over money can only be solved once the voting

rights within the bloc have been reorganized.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten agreed, saying that Poland and Spain got the answer to their stubbornness concerning voting rights within the EU. If someone is not ready to assign power to Brussels, then he can’t expect to get financial benefits from there”, the paper argued. And it demanded that Germany as the biggest net creditor should use the current frosty atmosphere within the bloc to make one bitter truth very clear: “The times when one could afford a generous European policy have passed”

The Kölner Stadtanzeiger also showed some sympathy to the budget letter: “The European commission is inconsistent, if on the one hand it demands that the countries should be disciplined in their spending” in order to limit their domestic budget deficits “while on the other hand it calls for more payments to the Union.”

The Financial Times Deutschland from Hamburg, however, criticized the letter as a “hardly hidden attempt at black-mail.” It predicted that this will even strengthen the confrontation and not bring Poland and Spain back to the

negotiating table. Instead of threatening, the paper demanded, the German government must engage in making the debate about the EU constitution more effective because the future of Europe is too important for tactical games.

The 50th anniversary of Germany’s Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees was a subject of comment in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which looked critically at the history of asylum in the country: “The more people applied

for asylum the more legal structures were invented to protect the right of asylum against the refugees.” Either they were told that there had been alternative shelters in their home countries, the paper said, or it was pointed out to them that even though they were tortured it hadn’t been by the state. Especially since the change of Germany’s asylum law this practice of rejection has been reflected in declining quotas of acceptance, the paper criticized, concluding that after the basic right of asylum has been washed out Germany doesn’t need such a large office any more.