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Europe

German Press Review: Living Risky Lives

On Thursday, German papers commented on the debate over trade in carbon emissions in Germany as well as Germany's discussions on how to counter terrorist threats.

Six days after the Madrid attacks, Germany discusses a reform of its public authorities, contended Die Welt. That may be a typically German answer – but it’s not a wrong one in the face of the terrorist threat. It’s quite important to figure out how many authorities in Germany work under which conditions to protect the constitution, believed the daily’s editorialist. There is no reason why Germany needs different secret services for each and every individual

German state in order to fight terrorists who operate at a supranational level, concluded the paper.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung saw deficiencies in the co-operation between authorities at the federal level and within the individual German states. But the paper also took the issue one step further and argued that co-operation between the different European countries is equally lacking. No matter where you look, charged the paper, whether it be secret services, criminal police, or offices for the protection of the constitution – in all of these institutions the vanity of the chiefs or the respective national governments impede the free flow of information about terror suspects or their networks, the daily wrote.

The Mannheimer Morgen took a more liberal view by arguing that Western countries in their fight against terrorism now need to take care not to sacrifice their constitutional maximes of transparency and control. If they fail to do so, they play into the hands of the enemies of a liberal social order, the paper warned.

It may sound brutal, contends the Süddeutsche Zeitung, but Western democracies will be haunted by terrorist attacks in the future. They have to learn to live with the risk, without questioning themselves after each attack and without predicting a victory of terrorism each time. Citizens have to learn that the opposite of their freedom is danger. In traffic this connection is being socially accepted, said the paper: In order to have the freedom of speed, a

society risks deaths each year. And a society will need to do the same to protect its civil liberties, the daily argued.

The Financial Times Deutschland criticized attempts by outgoing Spanish Premier José Maria Aznar to manipulate the Spanish press after the Madrid bombings, by claiming the Basque terror organisation ETA not al-Quaeda was behind the attacks. But despite – or maybe because of his plump attempts of manipulation, Aznar’s conservative party lost the election. Other democracies should learn from this example, wrote the daily: In a pluralistic society there are simply too many citizens who ask critical questions.

Other German papers commented on a conflict within the German government between German Minister for Environment Jürgen Tritin from the junior Greens and Social Democrat Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement about the trade in carbon emissions. Under a new EU scheme Germany needs to agree on national carbon dioxide emission limits by the end of March when each member state is required to submit company-by-company caps to Brussels. What we see here is a power struggle between men, analyzed the Berliner Zeitung, referring to a struggle between German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his Economics Minister. Clement doesn’t care so much about the well-being of the Schröder government anymore because he feels offended by the Chancellor who has appointed Franz Müntefering as the new chief of the Social Democrats – without Clement knowing about it. Clement now finds himself only second in line, wrote the paper, and if he carries the conflict to extremes he might come out the looser.

Clement has got entangled in the interests of the German business community, wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau. For Schröder and the Social Democrats that turns him into a source of irritation. Of all people it’s the “modernizer” Clement who now blocks an innovative political instrument such as the trade in greenhouse gas emissions. The daily considered this as Clement’s trial of strength not only with Jürgen Tritin but also with the new head of the Social Democrats, Franz Müntefering.