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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 03:35 GMT 04:35 UK
European press review

The future of EU following comments by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on the constitution attracts attention in Thursday's papers; speculation continues over Germany's electoral stalemate and Spanish papers question opposition to the country's new gay marriage law.

EU doldrums

"Barroso confirms the constitution's failure" states a front-page headline in France's Le Figaro, reporting his acknowledgement that the EU will not have a constitution for at least two years.

Switzerland's Le Temps comments that the president of the EU Commission has "gone into temporary mourning" for the treaty, adding that Brussels has been seized by "deep unease" over the issue, as well as by the failure of negotiations on the EU's budget.

The paper is unimpressed with Mr Barroso's answer, a raft of measures to try and cut some of the EU's bureaucracy. "Short of ideas, Barroso fights against 'the bureaucratic monster'", it says.

By contrast, Austria's Der Standard praises the European Commission for finally "getting serious" about cutting back on bureaucracy.

The paper notes that the commission is withdrawing 70 of 200 planned regulations.

"This is a step in the direction of a closer relationship with the people taken by the very Eurocrats who are often criticized for being out of touch with the real world," the paper says.

German lessons

"Do the German elections hold any lessons for the French?" asks Le Monde.

"Comparing the two countries, both prey to identical problems (low growth, high unemployment), is tempting, but is risky. The political traditions are not the same," it says.

By way of example, it points out that when French commentators try to predict which coalition will run Germany, they forget how equivalent moves would seem outlandish in France.

"Germany has a classic tendency to seek consensus," the paper says, noting that the French could "not even picture" an alliance between the ruling right-wing party and the Socialists to run France.

Coalition options

Papers in Germany continue to explore different line-ups for a possible coalition government.

Die Welt encourages all parties to be open to new arrangements, arguing that agreement on a few urgent issues would be sufficient to develop an agenda for change.

"There are so many unresolved problems that possible coalition partners should find it easy to draw up lists of issues from which potential governing parties can pick the most convenient one."

Berliner Zeitung urges the smaller parties to envisage coalitions they are currently reluctant to contemplate.

The paper notes that the pro-business Free Democrats have ruled out a coalition with the centre-left, while the Greens fear a backlash from the rank and file if they cooperate with the centre-right.

"In the democratic system, the raison-d'etre of parties is to strive for power," the paper thinks. "This is their only chance to implement the ideas for which they were elected."

die tageszeitung notes that a left-wing coalition between the Social Democrats, the new Left Party and the Greens would have a majority of seats.

The paper acknowledges that this arrangement has been ruled out by all parties, but it argues that it could become a viable option in the future.

However, it points out that this would require reformist forces within the Left Party to assert themselves against more "politically fundamentalist" elements.

"Red-red-green is currently not just impossible as a matter of fact, it would also be wrong to try it because this would involve skipping the necessary learning process."

Spain's gay marriages

Spanish papers examine the decision by Spain's opposition right-wing Popular Party (PP) to file a constitutional challenge against the recently passed gay marriage law.

Barcelona's El Periodico highlights the disagreements within the party over the decision, noting that a number of prominent party members oppose the move.

"The PP cannot disguise that this has created a split", the paper says.

Madrid's El Pais says the leadership of the Popular Party "insists that it is not questioning the rights of homosexuals but rather a law that is contrary to the constitution".

But the paper thinks it is "curious, as well as contradictory" for the party to say it is defending their rights by appealing against the law.

The party "will have to clarify whether it is just against the name - that gay weddings be called marriages - or whether it in fact opposes the full legal comparison of same sex couples with heterosexual ones".

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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