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German Press Review: Tolerating Competition

Germany’s papers on Tuesday commented on French pharmaceutical company Sanofi taking over its Franco-German rival Aventis as well as support for the Iraq war by the leader of Germany's Christian Democrats.

The Frankfurter Rundschau wrote: "If a united Europe really wants to conduct itself as a global player, it must not only tolerate this competition among the national economies but also make an effort to guide it – in the sense of a division of labour: Everyone benefits when someone on the globalized market is given a break. The exodus of jobs, but also and in particular of future-orientated research and development capacities, will not be halted by the

lamenting about the unfair methods of Asian and North American governments and concerns but – if at all – only through decisive action."

Die Welt thought a policy of national isolation would definitely be the wrong answer. Protectionism produces business concerns that are unable to survive in the global rat race, it said. But the Berlin daily was convinced that the German government can still adopt a lot of measures that would not be considered harmful in a bid to prevent a sell-out of German concerns. These include not only creating a competitive tax system and flexible job markets, but also putting forward general plans enabling the state to improve the basic conditions for key sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry or the banking business. But, the paper concluded, such plans are missing. Therefore it is hardly surprising that in Germany there are fewer and fewer international champions.

The Nürnberger Nachrichten commented on the plight of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, now that three of his key ministers, including Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have spurned an appeal to help shore up sagging support for his Gaza pullout plan in a crucial party referendum. The paper said that with his uncompromising course, the Israeli leader has manoeuvred himself not only in Israel but also internationally onto the political sidelines. That’s no doubt why Netanyahu, who has already been prime minister and would like the job again, is distancing himself from Sharon’s course. And so one can hardly help thinking – not least because of the never-ending corruption charges - that the race to succeed Sharon has already begun.

Referring to a statement by the leader of Germany’s conservative opposition CDU party that nothing has changed in her support for the Iraq war, the Ostthüringer Zeitung wrote: "If Angela Merkel continues to deal with her own mistakes in a way that gives the impression that she is not in control of the situation, she will soon portray herself as someone who has fallen victim to her own propaganda – just as George Bush has done." The eastern German daily thought Merkel would be doing herself a good turn if she would only state quite clearly that her party feels deceived by the USA and sees things differently today.