In France, with the campaign for Sunday's EU referendum in its final frantic sprint, it remains practically impossible to find a good word for the "No" camp in the mainstream papers, despite its lead in the opinion polls.
In Germany, four days after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's call for fresh elections following of his Social Democrats' defeat in a key regional poll, the papers ponder the prospects and policies of the main opposition parties.
The Spanish papers note Eta's violent response to the government's offer of dialogue.
Mr Chirac's dilemma
Under the heading of "Chirac and a big date for the Yes" vote, Paris's Le Figaro pins its hopes on President Jacques Chirac's radio and TV address on Thursday evening, his third and last of the referendum campaign.
The paper expects Mr Chirac "solemnly" to urge voters "to show a sense of responsibility... in the face of a historic choice". He will also "endeavour to reassure (them) on the issues of the EU's enlargement and the relocation of jobs", it adds.
"We shall find out on Sunday," the paper says, "whether the president managed to convince the undecided".
The left-wing Liberation finds what it sees as a "lonely and unpopular" Jacques Chirac "facing the abyss" of a 'No' vote caused more by his government's policies than by dislike of the European Constitution.
The paper has a suggestion, but it carries a sting in the tail.
In order to differentiate between the two issues, it contends, Mr Chirac "must (in his broadcast) this evening commit himself to dissolving parliament... whatever the result of the referendum".
Such an attitude, the paper argues, "would enable the French to vote first on the (European) Constitutional Treaty, and then again... to elect a new National Assembly".
Mr Schroeder's affliction
In Germany, the Berliner Zeitung says the conservative opposition parties are almost certain to win the general election expected to be held in September.
The paper says that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has "as good as resigned", while his party "has admitted that it does not know how to boost growth or cut unemployment".
"So why should voters put their cross next to the Social Democrats?" it asks.
But the opposition parties, the paper warns, must put forward specific and realistic policies if they want to demonstrate their ability to govern.
It says Christian Democratic Union leader Angela Merkel, "will have to learn to take decisions more swiftly than in the past". But Ms Merkel is "sufficiently power-conscious and experienced to become chancellor", the paper believes.
Der Tagesspiegel wonders to what extent foreign policy would change if the Christian Union parties were to come to power.
The paper notes the opposition's charge that Mr Schroeder has ruined Berlin's relations with Washington and damaged the EU by forging alliances with Paris, Moscow and Beijing.
But it doubts that a CDU-led government would initiate radical policy changes.
"It is in any case hard to imagine", the paper says, a Chancellor Merkel following President Bush's example and setting Vladimir Putin "an ultimatum to promote democracy and a proper judiciary" in Russia.
And it adds that the opposition would not want to give up what the paper describes as "the great increase in trust Germany enjoys as a result of the chancellor's attitude in the Iraq conflict".
In Spain, a powerful car bomb preceded by a warning claiming to be from the Basque separatist group Eta yesterday wounded 52 people in Madrid. It was the seventh attack since Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero offered Eta negotiations if it renounces violence.
No-one was killed, says Madrid's El Pais, "but those under whose orders the bombs are detonated know full well that where there are wounded there might have been dead".
"They also know," it adds, "that this bomb and the other six planted in Guipuzcoa after the tabling of a resolution on ending the violence through dialogue, strengthen the positions of those against such a course."
The resolution approved by the Madrid parliament stipulates that any dialogue must be preceded by an "unequivocal" sign from Eta showing a "clear will" to give up violence.
"It is clear that no such will has been shown," it argues, "and that the bomb attacks express the opposite attitude."
El Mundo, also in Madrid, urges Prime Minister Zapatero to - as the paper puts it - "come down from his cloud".
Yesterday's bomb, it says, "should make Mr Zapatero consider Eta's real intentions". This attack and the ones which preceded it, the paper argues, "are the group's answer to the government's offer of dialogue".
Under the heading of "Eta makes itself heard", La Razon says that the Basque group either "failed to grasp the exact extent of the offer of negotiations, or else is not prepared to meet its conditions and objectives".
"The triple course of police action, the machinery of the judiciary and international cooperation," the paper argues, "provides the most effective means of defeating terrorism".
The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.