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The paper clip, 12 March

Monday 12 March 2012

Slovakia's Sme and Pravda are dominated by the results of Saturday's parliamentary elections, which gave the opposition centre-left party Smer an outright majority. Sme writes that the prime minister-designate, Robert Fico, is considering giving up to half the seats in his government to technocrats. A commentator in Pravda writes that the ferment on the centre-right, which led to a collapse in support, is set to continue. Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza describes Fico as a left-wing lover of luxury.

Gazeta Wyborcza gives substantial space to Poland's veto of the EU's low-carbon roadmap.

Leading European aviation companies have written to European political leaders warning about the implications of the EU carbon tax. They say that including non-EU airlines in the EU's emissions trading scheme could cost thousands of jobs. The Financial Times, Die Welt and the Irish Times have the story.

Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, is today paying an unannounced visit to German troops in Afghanistan, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes. Her visit is likely to be overshadowed by the killing of 16 civilians, including several children, by an American soldier in southern Afghanistan. The New York Times has a report on the rampage. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, has demanded a clarification from the US on the incident, reports the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. Barack Obama, the US president, called Karzai to offer his condolences and to undertake a speedy investigation into the shootings.

Evangelos Venizelos, Greece's finance minister, has emerged as the only candidate for the leadership of the centre-left Pasok, writes Kathimerini, and is set to be anointed party leader next Sunday, succeeding George Papandreou. The leader of the main opposition party in Greece has criticised the terms of the country's second aid package, the UK's Guardian writes. The paper says that the comments by Antonis Samaras, leader of New Democracy, are the “the clearest signal yet that an election is close”.

Europe has become an issue in the French presidential election campaign because of a speech on the subject made yesterday by Nicolas Sarkozy, the current president. Le Figaro reports that Sarkozy has threatened to withdraw France from Schengen, the border-free travel area. He says he wants the Schengen treaty to be revised and, if the revision is not implemented by a member state within 12 months, would suspend France's participation. Sarkozy also called for the introduction of an “economic patriotism” in Europe. He said he wanted to defend Europe from unfair international competition the way other countries of the world did. Le Monde reports that Sarkozy's language is getting closer to that of his closest rival, the Socialist François Hollande, by saying that “Europe needs to change to save France”. Using dramatic language in a speech yesterday, Sarkozy said that if “nothing changes, the people of Europe will not stand by and watch the devastating consequences for long”. Sarkozy has “stepped up his courtship of hard-right voters”, is the opinion of the UK's Guardian, referring to his threat to pull France out of the Schengen zone.

A peace mission to Syria by Kofi Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations, has failed to produce agreement on a ceasefire, writes the New York Times.

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza has killed two Palestinians, writes Ha'aretz.

Enda Kenny and David Cameron, the prime ministers of Ireland and the UK, will today publish plans for the development of British-Irish relations for the next decade, the Irish Times writes. The plans include increased economic co-operation, trade and investment between the two countries.

The Los Angeles Times looks at the “flood” of migrants from EU states into Germany, which, it says, is prompting fears of a brain drain in other EU states.

The Bank for International Settlements believes that the worst of the European credit crunch is over, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

De Volkskrant reports that the Netherlands has no ambition to lobby for the chairmanship of the Eurogroup. Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, said countries with a triple A credit rating, such as the Netherlands or Finland, stood a better chance to deliver a candidate for the job.

Belgian authorities have said that 213 farms have been contaminated with the Schmallenberg virus, which affects cattle and sheep, reports De Morgen. The virus is expected to spread in the coming weeks.

Ferdinand Piëch, the chairman of Volkswagen's supervisory board, wants his wife Ursula to join the board, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The move is seen as an attempt to ensure the Piëch family remains in control over Volkswagen, Europe's largest car-maker. Ferdinanr Piëch is 75 and his wife is 55. The board is expected to approve the appointment at a meeting on 19 April.

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