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Europe

German Press Review: Paris and Berlin Need to do Homework

German newspapers on Friday focused mainly on Thursday’s German-French summit in Berlin, but some also looked beyond Europe’s borders to U.S. President Bush’s attempts to erase alleged connections between Iraq and 9/11.

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Which path is the right one for Europe's economic future?

What Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac intend to do, wrote the Essen-based Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, makes sense at first glance. Europe’s economic and social policies are supposed to become better coordinated. A kind of "economic government" is supposed to prove that Europe is not only closely working together on the euro, but that the common currency is based on a well-negotiated economic policy. But the Franco-German plans would probably be more appealing to euro partners, the paper commented, if Paris and Berlin would do their homework. Those such as the two who virtually shrug their shoulders at not adhering to the deficit criteria of the Stability Pact will lose economic and political credibility, the paper said.

The Saarbrücker Zeitung proclaimed Franco-German influence to be dwindling. It has never been so limited as it is today, the paper wrote. And it will decrease even more when other members enter the EU-club next year. "If the two want to promote their own interests, then they need strategic allies, and not just the little guys like Belgium and Luxembourg, but political heavy weights." There won’t be any getting around Great Britain. Schröder and Chirac seem to have realized that. When they meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday, they may be able to move past the bitter argument over Iraq, the paper suggested. At any rate the three of them could profit from the talks, and the EU will too, the paper surmised.

Düsseldorf’s Westdeutsche Zeitung was more critical. It commented that the small EU partners will clearly note what was hidden behind the Chirac-Schröder summit agenda, namely, a list of leading technology companies that happen to be French and German. While the idea might be a good one to rely on more than just EU funds for building roads, Germany and France will not solve its economic problems merely by awarding German or French companies major contracts, the paper said.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung took a look beyond Europe’s borders in its editorials and commented on President George W. Bush’s attempts to wipe away supposed connections between the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Iraq. "That’s interesting," wrote the paper, "since this assertion was never used in the jumble of reasons given for military intervention in Iraq." Why should Bush refute something he never said in the first place, the paper asked. "The answer is: prevention. The U.S. government’s credibility is suffering, and the presidential election is around the corner. Bush clearly does not want the Democrats putting words into his mouth," the Munich daily opined.

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