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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 04:20 GMT 05:20 UK
European press review

In today's review the French premier gains unenthusiastic support for his policies. German papers consider whether office has left its mark on the Chancellor.

Elsewhere, a Hungarian paper feels the country's accession to the EU on 1 May could be spoilt.

Grey does it

As France's prime minister successfully submitted his reshuffled cabinet's policies to the National Assembly on Monday a headline in the leading Paris daily Le Monde suggests that he failed to enthuse even his own supporters.

On their way out of the session they seemed overwhelmed by disappointment
Le Monde
The ruling majority, the paper says, "supported Jean-Pierre Raffarin practically to a man, but their heart wasn't in it".

"On their way out of the session," it adds, "they seemed overwhelmed by disappointment".

The paper sees the fact that the prime minister referred to "reforms" no less than seven times in his half-hour speech as what it calls "a challenge to the president of the republic" who, it notes, had "advised him to use 'that word' less often".

The Nouvel Observateur takes a similar view.

Even the government's own party, it says, "found it hard to conceal its lack of enthusiasm" for a speech "as grey as the suit the prime minister was wearing".

Entente Cordiale

As Queen Elizabeth II continues her visit to France for the Entente Cordiale's centenary, Denmark's Information considers the state of British-French relations.

Heads of state come and go, while nations remain
Information
"The cultivation of - let us just say it without fuss in the Scandinavian way - the currently ice-cold relationship between the two countries is mostly left to Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac."

"The two have a notoriously strained, not to say decidedly uncordial relationship with each other," it says.

"But heads of state come and go, while nations remain."

It adds that the French have historically wanted a stronger EU, while the British have been sceptic all along, and although many commentators point out that Britain now has its most pro-EU leader ever while the French have one of the most EU-sceptic, their ambitions for the union remain "essentially different".

This is "first and foremost" down to contrasting relationships to the US, with "American global dominance of culture and politics seen as a constant affront in protectionist Paris", but as "reinforcement of the Anglo-Saxon view of liberal democracy and a healthy market-oriented lifestyle" in London.

What price leadership?

The web site of Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung marks Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's 60th birthday with the publication of 15 photos intended to show how he has aged in the course of his career.

The photos show the chancellor's eyes and forehead over a period from 1978, when he was head of the Social Democratic Party's Young Socialists' division, to today.

In the earliest photo, "his forehead was still smooth", the paper observes.

But as early as 1984, it detects "rings round his eyes", and in 1993, "a deep furrow" under his right eye after he failed to obtain the party leadership.

The 2002 election campaign "cut furrows never seen before" into his face, it adds, while the latest photo presents what it calls the "pitiful sight" of a man suffering under the controversy surrounding his social and economic reform plans.

But Germany's Die Welt believes that the last 10 years have almost left no trace in Gerhard Schroeder's physical appearance.

Terror plots

Considering the al-Qaeda plot to attack London, Madrid's La Razon maintains that "the challenge represented by the probability of terrorism employing 'dual-use' products and technologies must be met".

"After all, it is worth noting that the terrorists who smashed themselves into the Twin Towers achieved the same mechanical effect as that of a tactical nuclear weapon."

Also in Madrid, El Mundo praises the Spanish security force's pursuit of those responsible for the 11 March train bombings.

"Accepting errors in prevention, it is unquestionable that since the very morning of 11 March, the response of the state security bodies and forces deserves a distinction."

Bittersweet

There will be sausages and mustard accompanied by fireworks, but it would have been nice to have something tangible
Magyar Hirlap
Hungary's Magyar Hirlap says the celebration of the country's accession to the European Union has been "spoilt" by failures on both sides which prevent the free mobility of people on the big day.

"All right, there will be celebrations, there will be sausages and mustard accompanied by fireworks, but it would have been nice to have something tangible", it says.

"It would be nice to pop in the car on the morning of 1 May and simply cross the border by showing our ID card," the paper says, "but the EU member states' border guards might shake their head and say that they do recognise the documents."

Wild plant vs Nato radar

Also in Hungary, Nepszabadsag suggests widespread support for the Greens' opposition to a Nato radar to be built on a southern peak called Zengoe shows the rise of the Hungarian environmental movement.

The paper suggests that the Greens' argument for the protection of a local wild plant could not be the main reason for the broad support.

"The environmentalists, probably rightly, have had enough of always being told of a more important argument.

"They feel that anything can be built at any time with reference to EU accession, modernisation and recently the EU and Nato themselves", the paper says.

"The protection of the environment has now become a mobilising factor in Hungary" and the radar case is "only the beginning", the paper predicts.

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




SEE ALSO:
The press in Germany
23 Mar 04  |  Europe
The press in Spain
06 Apr 04  |  Europe


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