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Monday, 18 June, 2001, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
European press reacts to Gothenburg
EU summit participants
EU enlargement looks set to proceed after the Gothenburg summit
The European Union's summit in Gothenburg produced a date for the end of accession negotiations for new members, but the meeting was also overshadowed by violent demonstrations by anti-globalisation protesters.

Editorials in Europe's press have reflected both these themes.

Defeat for democracy

In Germany, the liberal Sueddeutsche Zeitung predicted that future summits would be even more sealed off from the public following the "orgy of violence" in Gothenburg.

"This is particularly regrettable since planned enlargement and further EU reform require a more open debate with Eurosceptic citizens," the paper said.

The leftist Tageszeitung saw the violence as counter-productive.

Rioters confront a policeman in Gothenburg
Rioters may have damaged the prospects for a more open debate

"The stones hit the legitimate protests of those hostile to the EU and were thus a defeat for democratic political culture," it said.

France's Liberation criticized some EU leaders' condemnation of the riots.

"Criminalizing political matters... is not a satisfactory response," it said.

"It would be ridiculous to use the vocabulary which was popular at the time of the Baader-Meinhof gang, when it involves only street fights that any modern police force... knows how to control without resorting to firing real bullets," it said.

Timetable doubts

Reactions to the agreement on EU enlargement varied.

The Belgian De Standaard said the fears aroused in candidate countries by the Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty had received only a "partial response", and it would fall to Belgium to pick up the pieces when it took over from Sweden in July.


The political will still exists to move down the path of enlargement, even if it is with the slowness of a sometimes disoriented elephant

Spanish daily El Mundo

"This is where the main task of the Belgian EU presidency will lie: to get the important debate about the Union's future going, with a view to enhancing the EU's internal credibility and public support," it suggested.

Spain's El Mundo was cautiously optimistic.

"The aspirant countries have received the message that the political will still exists to move down the path of enlargement, even if it is with the slowness of a sometimes disoriented elephant," it commented.

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman
The Czechs and Hungarians were upbeat about the summit

In Germany, which had held up agreement over fears about free movement for workers, there were concerns about Poland's ability to meet the deadline.

The liberal Frankfurter Rundschau accused Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of "a serious mistake" in agreeing to a target date.

"Even with the best will in the world it won't be possible to adhere to this timetable, at least not as far as Poland is concerned," the paper believed.

If Poland was unable to take part in the first wave, it "would be a disaster for Germany's Poland policy and might provoke dangerous reactions in Warsaw", it concluded.

Candidates optimistic

Papers in other candidate countries were happier.

In Hungary, the pro-government Magyar Nemzet said the country had a clear answer to the question: "What is the Gothenburg summit really worth?"


It is people in candidate countries who will decide in a referendum whether the years of preparation will pay off or whether they will be a mere waste of time

Czech daily Ceske Slovo

"From Budapest's point of view: a lot," it said.

"For small countries like Hungary, it is also an encouraging sign that the size of a country is not necessarily a decisive factor in the EU's decision-making mechanism."

Czech papers saw the agreement as a wake-up call for all concerned.

"Both the EU and countries seeking its membership have a joint task - to explain to their citizens why unification of Europe is so important for all of them," said the Ceske Slovo daily.

"It is people in candidate countries who will decide in a referendum whether the years of preparation will pay off or whether they will be a mere waste of time."

For Mlada Fronta Dnes, the Gothenburg decision required the Czech authorities to get their act together.

"After Gothenburg, it will be more than ever before a challenge for all state institutions," it declared.

"Their coordinated approach can ensure the Czech Republic the possibility of being among the first countries on the finishing line."

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.

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