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Europe

German Press Review: Political Bumbling and Healthcare

Germany's newspapers on Wednesday continued to focus on the need to reform the healthcare system. But most of the editorials remained skeptical that the country's politicans will manage to come through.

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German healthcare needs more than just a shot in the arm.

The German parliament on Wednesday debated the government's draft proposals for overhauling the healthcare system. Though the conservative opposition agrees changes are necessary, its proposed solutions are vastly different than the ruling coalition's proposals.

The Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein-Zeitung in Essen wrote what makes Germans most nervous is that top politicians are debating as if the heathcare problems had turned up only recently. That's given people an overall impression of chaos from both the government and opposition. This confusion has blocked all initiatives that might improve the economy.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung said both camps are failing miserably at the moment. People want to know at last what to expect and the direction the country is taking, the paper wrote. Opposition leader Angela Merkel has rightly accused the government that its policies lack vision, but her own conservatives are squabbling amongst themselves.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung of Munich said the proposed system now lacks solidarity. If current plans discussed were passed, patients would no longer get what was

medically necessary, but only what could be paid for out of tax revenue.

Both government and opposition want to do it the same old way, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: those who get sick, are to pay more. That is also a way to cut back on solidarity, while making it look as if it were still there at least among those paying into the heathcare system.

If government and opposition thrash it out between them in the next few months, mused Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, they might just produce a joint proposal that amounts to a proper health care reform.

A few papers addressed a European Union peacekeeping operation in Congo and the challenges it will present.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung suggested that not even whole divisions of peacekeepers could end the slaughter in Congo and it doubted that the EU force of just 1,700 men can do it in three months as planned. The paper said Germany is taking part mainly out of solidarity with France, and that's the

problem: European and transatlantic considerations are paramount, not the

future of the Congo.

Bonn's General-Anzeiger made much the same point. The paper said the matter is about holding up the EU flag in one of the world's many crisis spots, a militarily buttressed political signal of unity and solidarity, because only a united Europe willing to take action will make itself heard in the world. Europe might just be extending its sphere of interest, said the paper.

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