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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
European press review

Today's press review is a mixed bag. Papers are still grappling with the aftermath of the failed EU summit.

Elsewhere, the German Green Party has a new manifesto, the French finance minister sounds the alarm and Hungary plans a memorial to the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising.

"Blair's naive calculation"

Austria's Die Presse accuses British Prime Minister Tony Blair of misleading the public in his attack on EU agricultural spending.

"We demand a ban on European politicians clouding people's minds," the paper says.

It points out that Mr Blair has criticised the EU for allocating 40% of its spending to farmers although this group represents a mere 5% of the population.

"This is factually true, but it does not mean anything," the paper argues.

It explains that agricultural subsidies are paid for almost exclusively by the EU while spending on many other issues remains the preserve of national governments.

According to the paper, if all public expenditure in the EU is taken into account, agricultural subsidies only account for 1.6%.

"So what is the point of Blair's naive calculation?" it asks.

EU's Waterloo

In Finland, Swedish-language daily Helsinki Hufvudstadsbladet draws a historical parallel between the EU summit and the Battle of Waterloo, which was fought a few kilometres away 190 years ago.

"Who was defeated and who triumphed in Brussels in 2005 is significantly more complicated than at Waterloo in 1815", the paper says.

The only clear loser in Brussels was the EU
Helsinki Hufvudstadsbladet
"Strictly speaking, Napoleon's present-day successor to the throne, President Jacques Chirac, had faced his Waterloo three weeks earlier in the French referendum on the EU Constitution", the daily states.

"The British under Tony Blair cannot reckon themselves victors in the same way as Wellington in 1815", it goes on.

"The only clear loser in Brussels was the EU."

But the daily points out that Europe's future after the Napoleonic Wars was saved by the Congress of Vienna.

Anti-terror plans

Sweden's Aftonbladet points out that there was not disagreement on everything at the EU's Brussels summit.

"For example, EU leaders got behind an anti-terrorism action plan", it says.

The daily is particularly concerned about continued implementation of the strategy to prevent funding of terrorism.

"What does this mean in practice?", the paper asks.

"In Sweden the concept of popular movements is based on aid organisations and other NGOs being able to operate without state control, it states.

"The language used by the EU is vague", it goes on.

"What does the terrorism plan mean for idealistic aid work and the Swedish model of people's movements?," the paper wonders, urging Prime Minister Goran Persson to "send out a clear message".

The summit also adopted guidelines on preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists - guidelines which are "unfortunately" secret.

"Previous versions have contained ideas about listening in on mosques, for example," the paper adds.

"The risk is that the EU will embrace the same robust, Islamophobic attitude which dominates the American war on terror", it warns.

German Greens launch manifesto

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung says the Green Party manifesto published yesterday is vague but likely to satisfy different wings of the party.

The paper believes that the 40-page document, published ahead of parliamentary elections expected to be held on 18 September, is "too long" for most voters.

With the new manifesto, the (German Green) party leadership has integrated all wings and pacified the different camps
Sueddeutsche Zeitung
It adds that it nevertheless contains little detail on plans for "citizens' insurance", a "basic social security" scheme and a tax rise for high earners.

According to the paper, the main reason why the party is proud of its work is that it has managed to minimise the risk of old conflicts between different factions breaking out again.

"With the new manifesto, the party leadership has integrated all wings and pacified the different camps," it says.

Its compatriot Berliner Zeitung agrees.

"Operation Truth"

France's Le Figaro says Finance and Economy Minister Thierry Breton "sounded the alarm" when he delivered a "severe diagnosis" of the economic situation yesterday in a press conference.

France's Le Monde says the minister engaged in "operation truth".

It says he is to be "congratulated" for admitting that France will not be able to pay for its social model unless there is an economic upturn.

But it adds that his analysis may not be followed by appropriate action.

"The whole government would have to adopt this diagnosis, and this is unlikely, starting with (President) Jacques Chirac," the paper says.

Hungary's anti-Soviet memorial

Hungary's Nepszabadsag describes a new memorial to be erected for the 50th anniversary of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising and its significance.

The event has divided the Hungarian Left and Right over the years, but now the Socialist-liberal government has invited a "cultural public procurement tender" for a metaphoric piece of art to express the nation's unity.

A group of young people has won the competition with a modern memorial built from vertical iron columns, short and rusty at the back, rising in height and getting closer together and shinier towards the front, which is supposed to reflect that "what was fragmented earlier is an organic unit today", the paper says.

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.


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