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EDITIONS
Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 13:47 GMT
Prospective members hail EU deal
French President Chirac, Foreign Minister Villepin and Polish PM Miller
Enlargement agreed after hard-fought summit
The historic decision to admit 10 new members to the European Union dominates the European press.

The majority of papers in the successful candidate countries welcome the outcome of the Copenhagen summit, while commentators in existing member states place more emphasis on the need for change within the EU to cope with the challenges enlargement poses.

Dream fulfilled

Poland's largest circulation daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, is full of praise for the Polish negotiators, whose determination to hold out for a better deal sent the summit into overtime.

Their "boldness, determination and elasticity" deserves "respect", chief editor Adam Michnik writes.

But the most important thing, he continues, is that "the dream of several generations of Poles, who stubbornly beat their heads against the walls of totalitarian dictatorships, has been fulfilled".

It would be a great shame if the Copenhagen summit were also to be remembered as the summit at which the efforts to find a Cyprus settlement were buried for good

Cyprus Mail

The date 13 December, the symbol of martial law, is also becoming a symbol of hope and success, he concludes.

But Poland's right-wing Nasz Dziennik is less happy.

It says that on 13 December 1981, Poles had their mouths shut "for their own good" and now, 21 years later, Polish politicians have agreed a deal, again "for our own good", that "will deprive us of a sovereign state".

Historic milestone

Two leading newspapers in the Czech Republic are in no doubt that the accession agreement is a good thing. "Agreed! The Czech Republic is bound for the EU," Mlada Fronta Dnes trumpets.

"A new Europe is born," the headline in Lidove Noviny screams. "Who won, who lost?" a commentary in the same paper asks. "Here in Copenhagen the government negotiators won. They extracted another 183m euros," it says.

The dream of several generations of Poles, who stubbornly beat their heads against the walls of totalitarian dictatorships, has been fulfilled

Gazeta Wyborcza

Hungary's liberal broadsheet Magyar Hirlap says the decision is an "historic event" in a piece headlined "The end of divided Europe."

The paper also welcomes German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's courage in "spelling out at last the well-known fact, which has been publicly denied by all so far, that enlargement is inconceivable without Poland".

2007: Europeans

In Bulgaria, all the papers report the draft summit statement backing Bulgaria's and Romania's aim of entry in 2007.

"2007: Europeans" is the front-page headline in 24 Chassa.

The forced march towards enlargement has increased the risks of institutional paralysis

Liberation

Both it and Trud say that Bulgaria is likely get a good deal on pre-accession funding, while Monitor reports that Bucharest will get more - but not as much as it wanted.

Contrasting the general optimism is the weekly Capital, which headlines its report "The Day We Missed the Wave."

It says the "praise from the EU will lead to even less desire for reform", lamenting that every "political gift" is used as an "excuse to do nothing".

In Cyprus satisfaction with the enlargement decision is tempered by sadness at the failure to reach agreement on ending the 28-year division of the island.

"We're in: EU Clinched but no UN Deal" is the headline in the independent Cyprus Mail.

"It is unfortunate that a Cyprus agreement was not signed but it is to be hoped that the peace efforts will continue... It would be a great shame if the Copenhagen summit were also to be remembered as the summit at which the efforts to find a Cyprus settlement were buried for good," the paper says.

And the rightist daily I Simerini makes a similar point in an editorial headlined "Relief."

Challenges

Newspapers in current member states react more cautiously to the EU summit outcome.

Spanish newspapers all recognise the "historic" decisions made but there is also agreement that the task ahead for the European Union is considerable.

The top-selling daily El Pais calls the summit a "milestone" but stresses that "internally, the EU must change deeply... it must head towards greater integration... or face the threat of being left as a mere market".

El Mundo looks more closely at the economic price of the "historic step".

It warns of a "period of uncertainty" but concludes that, on balance, the "political and ethical duty" to take in the new countries "must be seen as an economic opportunity and taken advantage of".

In France the mood is similar.

"The 15 will become 25 by 2004, barring a referendum setback in one of the member or candidate countries. And Turkey will be waiting," Liberation says.

"But before getting to grips with this aspect, Europe will have to take up an equally formidable challenge: that of integrating the 10 new members economically, socially and politically," it continues.

"The forced march towards enlargement has increased the risks of institutional paralysis... After this historic day, the worst thing to do would be to maintain that nothing has changed apart from the scale of the problems," the paper concludes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

02 Dec 02 | Business
14 Dec 02 | Media reports
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