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The paper clip, 15 March

Thursday 15 March 2012

Now that Greece has secured its second bail-out, attention has turned to general elections, Kathimerini writes. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has told ministers that the technocratic government “is nearing the end of its major and multifaceted effort to ensure the country's funding over the next few years”. Kathimerini says two former ministers have launched a new party called Social Pact, promising to provide “realistic and radical policies” to tackle the economic crisis. Louka Katseli and Haris Kastanidis were both members of the socialist PASOK party but left after voting against the terms of Greece's new bail-out.

The UK's triple-A credit rating is at risk, one of the big three credit-rating agencies has warned. Fitch said that a weaker than expected economic recovery could jeopardise the country's chances of tackling the debt burden. Another of the big three agencies, Moody's, recently placed the UK on ‘negative watch', meaning that it could face a downgrade. The Guardian has a report.

The collapse of the ruling coalition in Germany's largest federal state, North-Rhine Westphalia, presents Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, with an opportunity ahead of elections next year, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The minority government of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens collapsed yesterday after the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democrats (FDP) refused to approve a state budget. The paper asks if Merkel's CDU could form a black-green coaltion with the Greens rather than with her current coalition partners, the FDP. Süddeutsche Zeitung also has a report. 

The UK's Guardian writes about a cache of emails sent by Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife. It says that Assad took advice from Iran on how to handle the uprising against his rule. The 3,000 documents are believed to have been downloaded from private accounts belonging to Assad and his wife Asma. Le Monde also has a report on the emails.

The bus crash in Switzerland that claimed the lives of 28 people, including 22 children, dominates  Belgian, Dutch and Swiss newspapers today. De Standaard, de Volkskrant and De Tijd report that the bodies of the children and the six adults who died in the crash on Tuesday night are likely to be flown back to Belgium today. The Belgian government is organising military planes to bring back the bodies. Senior figures, including Elio Di Rupo, the prime minister, are in Switzerland to organise the repatriation of victims and survivors. De Morgen picks up reports in the Swiss newspapers Le Temps and Tages-Anzeiger, both of which question whether national authorities should lower the speed limit in tunnels in the wake of the crash. Het Nieuwsblad reports that seven of the dead victims were children with Dutch nationality.
 
Handelsblatt reports that Germany is considering whether to renegotiate a tax agreement with Switzerland after the European Commission said that it needed to be in line with EU legislation. The German government is coming under pressure from the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens over the agreement. The opposition parties say that the agreement gives an amnesty to people who have avoided paying tax. 

The Daily Telegraph says that more than 50 local authorities in the UK that lost money when the Icelandic bank Glitnir collapsed three years ago are to be paid in full.

Die Welt reports that the price of eggs has doubled for industrial users because of a ban on battery cages being introduced this year. 

The Maltese press is full of tributes to a former president, Censu Tabone, who died yesterday morning, two weeks short of his 99th birthday. The Times of Malta describes him as a “gentleman president”. 
 

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