Barack Obama, the US president, has echoed EU leaders by calling for a free-trade deal between the United States and Europe. The UK's Guardian writes that Obama provided few details, while for Hungary's Népszabadság the topic is secondary to other elements in Obama's State of the Union speech. For the Financial Times, the go-ahead for the trade talks was central to a speech in which the US president returned to themes from his re-election campaign. Its headline: “Obama drive to ‘re-ignite' the US economy.” Obama has declared closing the income gap between rich and poor the top priority of his second term in office, writes the Washington Post. He also used his fourth state of the union address to announce the withdrawal of half the US troops from Afghanistan - some 34,000 in all - by next year. Senior Senators are lukewarm about the prospect of trade talks with the EU, the launch of which Obama announced in his address, the Washington Post writes.
The abdication of Pope Benedict is the subject of much commentary. Belgium's La Libre Belgique considers the possibility of a Latin American pope. Germany's Die Welt looks at the impact in Germany, where the leader of the German laity has described the German pope's decision as a “turning point...especially for the Church in Germany”.
France has announced that it no longer opposes opening the regional-policy chapter in Turkey's EU membership talk, writes Hürriyet Daily News.
The horsemeat scandal is the first major test for Tonio Borg, the European commissioner for health and consumer policy, writes the Times of Malta.
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's former prime minister who is leading the centre-right in an election later this month, has likened Italian prosecutors to "Jacobins" upsetting the proper division of powers in a democracy, writes La Repubblica.
Israel's Ha'aretz wonders whether the serving Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is under the sway of his wife. Nobody disagrees with the prime minister's right to consult his wife, it writes, but it is not customary for a political victory to depend on her authorisation.
A commentator in the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny warns that the EU budget could prove to be an own goal, in part because of the approach adopted toward the European civil service. The Commission can be low-cost – if it wants to be led by Romanians, Bulgarians and Hungarians.
The United Nations now puts the total number of deaths in Syria at 70,000, the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny writes.
Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza considers the military situation in Mali and the possibility of a guerrilla war.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that investigators are investigating possible manipulation of the financial markets during the takeover of the carmaker Volkswagen by Porsche.