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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 06:48 GMT

World: Europe

European press lays into Santer

Ms Cresson says people were out to get her

Click here for a review of the UK press.

European Commission President Jacques Santer received a thorough lashing from the press as papers across the EU reported on the fallout from the shock resignation of his entire team.

EU in crisis
In its editorial cartoon, Munich's Suddeutsche Zeitung depicts the commission chambers as a large barn. A pair of farmers stand at the doors, ordering 20 fat little piggies to leave so they can muck out the pen.

In its lead editorial, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung rules out the idea of any or all of the commissioners returning to their positions.

"A new commission must be chosen as quickly as possible, and Prime Minister Blair is right to call for the new president to be a political heavyweight," it says.

However divisions over how to proceed are clear from the front page of Madrid's El Mundo. "Aznar calls on Santer and his team to continue, Blair wants them out'' says the headline.

Righteous indignation

In its front page editorial, La Libre Belgique warns national politics could doom the next commission. "It is the heads of European governments with their own internal political balancing acts to manage who will 'make' the next commission and its president,'' it writes.

''One Jacques Santer," it concludes, "might easily lead to another."

Britain's Independent pulls no punches with Mr Santer and his "I'm whiter than white" defence.

"The Burgermeister's last stand, a final puffing of the petty functionary's chest, a valedictory outpouring of righteous indignation," is how it sees Mr Santer's rebuttal of the report which prompted his resignation.

Cresson's conspiracy theory

In France, it is Edith Cresson's self-defence that makes the front page of Le Figaro under the headline: "Cresson settles some scores".

In her exclusive interview with the paper, Ms Cresson alleges the independent report was "tampered with" before it was released.

"Somebody wanted to make people think that I wanted to mislead the European Parliament," the paper quotes her as saying. "This is a complete lie."

Pizza the action

But Britain's Financial Times went off on its own eccentric tack reporting the saga under the headline: "The drama that led to a run on pizzas".

The FT tells how a frantic Italian pizzeria owner gave European Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans Van den Broek a piece of his mind for failing to warn him of the night's dramatic events.

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