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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Suggested reading material for the Commission

Bearing in mind that it is often said that someone's choice of newspapers reflects their particular political prejudices, the details of the newspaper subscriptions of the EU Commission’s spokespeople, revealed by Handelsblatt’s Ruth Berschens, are very telling indeed. Ruth writes that:
"All 32 spokespeople and their deputies read the British Financial Times, at least eleven order the French Le Monde, while six order the Italian Corriere della Sera and the Spanish El País. German papers on the other hand do not reach such lofty readership heights in Brussels. Currently not a single spokesman has a subscription to for example, the widely circulated Süddeutsche Zeitung”. 
Now of course, you can read a paper without a subscription and we're sure that the Commission keeps an eye on the German debate in various different ways. Still, it's an indication of something. While all the papers above are certainly respectable and informative, they are limited by the fact that they are all quite close to the establishment in their respective countries, and also generally afford the Commission relatively favourable coverage. Limiting your reading to the above papers will certainty not give you the widest perspective of what is really happening on the ground. There is also a great big German-sized geographical hole.

As Ruth herself goes on to point out, this leaves the Commission flying blind in the face of public opinion in the EU’s most crucial player: 
How can EU officials and European politicians understand German sensibilities, if they do not speak any German and do not consult the German media? Short summaries of German newspaper article translated into English are not enough to suddenly make eurocrats experts on Germany. The flip-side of this low sensitivity to the domestic political constraints of the federal government are the completely exaggerated expectations of Germany.” 
Here are a few recent comments from the German media from the last few months that the Commission’s spokespeople may have missed: 
“Eurobonds undermine confidence in the fact that we can learn any lessons from the causes of the crisis. Athens’ sloppiness and denial would be tolerated while inaction would be seen as an attractive course in other countries. Why bother with reforms, why bother to make welfare systems, labour markets and the public sector sustainable when money will just fall from the sky?”- Florian Eder, Die Welt’s Brussels correspondent, 25th May 
“Hands off ‘Made in Germany’… this label is the envy of the world…Made in Brussels is the exact opposite – expensive regulations that shackle the economy.”- Prof. Ernst Elitz, founding director of Deutschlandradio, writing in Bild, 17th January 
"In dealing with Member States, the European Commission is rigorous. There is no measure that is too harsh when it comes to restructuring their budgets... However, when it comes to the salaries of the 45,000 EU officials, they exercise anything but restraint - this not only damages the credibility of all savings claims, but the reputation of the EU as a whole.”- Hendrik Kafsack writing in FAZ, 2nd March 
“In wanting to protect taxpayers, the UK is on the right side in the debate over bank capital rules... If Europe does not lead the way, the next crisis will again be an expensive one for taxpayers.”- Alexander Hagelücken, Süddeutsche’s economic correspondent, 4th May 
While we would encourage the Commission to go directly to the source and consult as many original German newspapers as possible, they could do far worse than signing up to our daily press summary which pulls together various sources from all over Europe…and it's free!


Anonymous said...

It's not just German papers that seem to be lacking. In the UK the only listed here is the staunchly europhile FT while the Telegraph and Times, let alone the popular press , don't feature. The Telegraph has by far the best financial reporting in Britain and its coverage of the eurozone crisis has been and us superb. If Barroso got a measure of what intelligent minds in Britain are thinking he wouldn't have made the crassly offensive attack he did yesterday on Callanan's speech which politely pointed out some home truths which should have been obvious to the blinkered Barroso but weren't.

He's not been elected by the people of Europe and should go - he's useless.

christina Speight said...

Sorry - ,didn;t mean to be anonymous - the above is from me!

Rik said...

Be glad about the way Barosso (give or take an r or an s) acts. It either means:
- he has nothing better (and we probably can agree that that was very poor, as usual btw); and/or
- he completely overestimates himnself (clearly I would say, also not unusual as he is simply an egomaniac); and/or
- confirms your countrymean that it is not a club to join or be a member of.
I would say win-win-win.

It looks indeed as if German public opinion now is shifting from a majority pro-bail out to anti. It looked a bit 50-50 before. The population did already move a long time ago. But now politics seems to move.

However Merkel has made her position basically impossible by partly profiling herself as champion of Europe and apparently finding it difficult to kick one of the non performing Southeners in some parts of the body where it really hurts when it is required. So imho likely not the first battle from now will mean victory for the anti-bail outs, but there will be many more to come and they all have to won by them to save their miserable currency. And that seems simply completely unlikely.

The Telegraph after the FT is most likely in my experience by not British (so the fast majority of this world's population) the by far best read English newspaper. Also for financial news.

Re the EU not reading German papers and not having a clue what is playing there. May I end with Sun Tzu's wise words (free translation).
1. Know yourself but not know your enemy the outcome of a battle is 50/50.
2. Know your enemy and not yourself it will be the same 50/50.
3. Know yourself and know your enemy and in 100 battles you will never be in danger.
4. Don't know yourself and donot know your enemy you will be in danger in every battle.
Well Barrosso (give or take an r or and s) is at least easy to place.

christina Speight said...

Rik - Just checked and the BBC and Wikipedia both spell the ogre with TWO 'R's and ONE 'S'.

I've only just changed to that so I hope it's right.

It means he's like (m)oss-o rather than (h)ose -o. Can't get it like 'ouzo' however hard I try

U can still,read the german papers if I'm not pressed but its an awful long time since I was at Goettingen University (1948 - sssh just between you and me)

Rik said...

You mean ogre like monster and other the nightmare stuff. I hope you (or anybody else btw) never will have a nightmare in which Barroso appears. Too horrible for words, even Hollywood could not make that up. Would make Freddy Kruger look like a Disney character (the Bambi kind).