03 February 2016

BILD: We need the Brits!

Tanit Koch, Editor in Chief of Bild – one of the widest circulated papers in the world – writes,Germany can be thankful for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s push to reform rules around EU migrants’ access to social benefits.” She adds, “Germany cannot afford a Brexit!… The EU would miss a self-confident sceptical nation whose democracy is much older than European bureaucracy. An EU without Great Britain would be poorer geopolitically, economically and above all: spiritually.”

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Handelsblatt: “Cameron is putting into action what other EU states want”

Meanwhile, Ruth Berschens, the Brussels Editor of German financial daily Handelsblatt, writes  that on reforming access to national welfare systems, “Cameron is putting into action what other EU states want.”

Her take: “Cameron is running into welcoming arms in other capitals, including Berlin. German statesmen would like to keep Romanians and Bulgarians as far away from their social coffers as the Mayor of London. It’s true that an increasing number of migrants from the EU’s poorer member states cash in on Hartz IV [German unemployment benefit], child benefit, or social aid, by abusing loopholes in social legislation. German lawmakers should be tasked with finally closing these gaps. They could do far more to deter misuse of social benefits within the remit of EU law…

The EU prefers, instead, to damage one of its basic pillars: the free movement of workers. This should allegedly be compatible with the EU Treaties, according to the European Commission and European Council President Donald Tusk. If the Heads of the EU states agree on 18 February, Cameron can be satisfied. He would go into the British EU Referendum with a good argument.”

German statesmen would like to keep Romanians and Bulgarians as far away from their social coffers as the Mayor of London.

Ruth Berschen, Brussels Editor, Handelsblatt (Germany)

Süddeutsche Zeitung: “A reasonable offer”

Stefan Kornelius, Foreign Editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and biographer of German Chancellor Angela Merkel writes, “The reform proposal of Brussels is moderate. It might throw some unshakable EU-enthusiasts off their feet, but it very realistically reflects the state of the [EU] community.  Internal migration – in moderation and not to be abused; Eurozone – if you please, but not to the detriment of others; the participation of national parliaments – of course, but under a mechanism that’s barely used; and ever more Europe – a symbolic goal, which is just unrealistic.

David Cameron largely got want he wanted. But was it wise to [reveal] it at this early date, or should more negotiating drama have been planned? Cameron will still pick fights. He will be displeased that Brussels, and not London, decides whether or not the social system is overwhelmed and the emergency brake can be pulled. But he no longer has an emergency brake on EU-membership in his hands.”

David Cameron largely got want he wanted. But was it wise to [reveal] it at this early date, or should more negotiating drama have been planned?

Stefan Kornelius, Foreign Editor, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)

Gazeta Wyborcza: Without compromise on benefits – difficult to avoid Brexit

Polish Daily Gazeta Wyborcza’s Brussels correspondent Tomasz Bielicki argues: “The choice is simple – either to defend the current rules on benefits for Polish migrants or concede to Cameron and thereby help him to win the impending referendum on keeping London inside the EU. Cutting benefits is the most popular of Cameron’s demands and without compromise it will be significantly harder to avoid Brexit.”

Cutting benefits is the most popular of Cameron’s demands and without compromise it will be significantly harder to avoid Brexit.

Gazeta Wyborcza, Brussels Correspondent, Tomasz Bielicki (Poland)

Rzeczpospolita:  This means the EU is not heading towards a superstate

Writing in Rzeczpospolita, Foreign Affairs editor Jerzy Haszczyński argues, “Taking into account what is at stake – namely keeping within the EU one the world’s most important countries – in addition one identified by the current Polish government as its main European partner – this compromise should be joyfully received in Warsaw.” He adds that, “Poles already living in the UK will not be sacrificed. This has to be considered a success… especially as in other areas aside from migration the proposals are close to the majority of Poles and especially to Law and Justice. They mean that the EU is not heading towards a superstate.”

Taking into account what is at stake…this compromise should be joyfully received in Warsaw.

 Jerzy Haszczyński , Foreign Affairs Editor, Rzeczpospolita (Poland)

El País:  A “shameful deal”

In El País, Spanish columnist Xavier Vidal-Folch describes the Tusk draft as “shameful”, writing:

Politically, the worst [bit] is the new opt-out for the UK from the principle of ‘ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’ and the strengthening of national parliaments…Both [reforms] mean Treaty change via the backdoor, and of the worst intergovernmental kind…On top of that, such a prize and such a bonus for the free rider, the stowaway, do not guarantee its happiness. They can be the prelude to further cessions.

Xavier Vidal-Folch,  Columnist, El País (Spain)

Meanwhile, Italian columnist Franco Venturini writes in Corriere della Sera: “David Cameron has obtained from European Council President Donald Tusk more than satisfactory concessions…Some voices in London say this is not enough. But one will need to see whether other voices in Europe will arise to say this is too much. Especially in a [European] Union that, between disregarded agreements on migrants and the wooing of Turkey, is already sacrificing some crucial aspects of its identity.”

Some voices in London say this is not enough. But one will need to see whether other voices in Europe will arise to say this is too much.

Franco Venturini, Columnist, Corriere della Sera (Italy)

Le Monde: “It’s all a sham”

Arnaud Leparmentier  of French Daily Le Monde comments on the deal, “The show can begin. David Cameron’s match against the Europeans, to persuade the Brits to stay in the EU, gets under way…It’s a match, of course. But it’s a wrestling match. It’s all a sham. [People] pretend to be in pain, but they are complicit. One makes noise, but one doesn’t solve anything in substance…This wrestling match must flatter the Brits’ pride, so that they are persuaded not to choose the open sea.”

Meanwhile, Florentin Collomp, the London correspondent for Le Figaro is misses the point of trying to reform the EU, leading with the headline,  “In Brussels, Cameron has first and foremost tried to save his skin.”

It’s all a sham. [People] pretend to be in pain, but they are complicit.

Arnaud Leparmentier, Columnist, Le Monde (France)