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The paper clip, 16 March

Friday 16 March 2012

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has launched a broadside against the EU, “likening EU bureaucracy to Soviet tyranny and casting himself in the mould of Hungarian heroes fighting to free the country from foreign domination since the 19th century”, writes the UK's Guardian. Hungary's Népszabadság, has a video and an articleabout the National Day celebrations at which Orbán made his speech. Poland's Rzeczpospolita highlights Orbán's assertion that Poland has been an ally in Hungary's series of clashes with the EU; Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza writes that around 2,000 Poles travelled to Budapest for the celebrations, which mark the revolution of 1848. A Czech daily, Lidové noviny, writes that several hundred right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis yesterday evening entered the building of a bank in which the International Monetary Office has its offices. They lit candles on the balcony and raised a flat used by Hungarian fascists before and during the Second World War.

François Hollande, the Socialist candidate in France's presidential election, dominates the French papers today. He took part in a programme on French television last night – his last major appearance before election campaign rules mean coverage will be limited. Le Monde reports that he rejected accusations that his sole raison d'être was to oppose the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, and maintained that he had many of his own policies. According to Le Figaro. Hollande wants to tax some tax exiles. He said that French citizens living in Belgium, Luxembourg or Switzerland would be taxed on both their capital and their savings if he were elected. Libération comments that Hollande was trying to regain some of the initiative lost to Sarkozy in recent days – which have seen the president overtake his Socialist rival in some opinion polls – by talking about the same themes: tax, immigration and law and order.

Turkey is preparing for a wave of refugees from Syria as Syrian security forces are extending their sweep toward the Turkish border, writes Hürriyet Daily News. The opposition in Syria, meanwhile, is reporting another massacre, in the town of Idlib near the border with Turkey, according to the Daily Star.

Belgium will commemorate the victims of Tuesday's bus crash in Switzerland today with a minute of silence, reports De Standaard and De Morgen. Flags on government and other public buildings are at half-mast, including those on European Commission and other EU institution buildings. Public transport and railways services will all come to a halt at 11.00 am to commemorate the dead.

Romania's Jurnalul National leads with a renewed attempt by the Moldovan parliament to elect a president. Three defectors from Moldova's Communist opposition have said they will support the presidential candidate put forward by the ruling pro-Western coalition, Nicolae Timofti. Ukraine's Kyiv Post also has a report.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to provide €28 billion to Greece as part of the country's second bail-out package with the eurozone countries. The IMF's decision, taken at a meeting in Washington, DC, yesterday, brings the total value of Greece's second bail-out to €138.7bn.

Evangelos Venizelos, until a few days ago Greece's finance minister, has kicked off his party's election campaign, writes Kathimerini. Venizelos is expected to assume the leadership of the centre-left Pasok from George Papandreou, former prime minister, on Sunday after launching a leadership challenge.

Corruption costs the German economy €250 billion a year, according to a report from an Austrian academic, Friedrich Schneider of the Johannes Kepler university in Linz. The report says that there has been a general “lowering of moral standards” since the start of the economic and financial crisis. Die Welt has a report.

Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, wants Wolfgang Schäuble, finance minister, to take over as president of the Eurogroup, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. Jean-Claude Juncker, the current president, steps dwon in June. Other eurozone countries are opposed to appointing Schäuble given the powerful position that Germany has in decision-making in the eurozone. Other candidates include Jyrki Katainen, Finland's prime minister, and Mario Monti, Italy's prime minister and finance minister. The issue of Juncker's successor is expected to be discussed by EU finance ministers at their informal meeting in Copenhagen on 30-31 March.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, has warned Israel against attacking Iran over its covert nuclear programme, writes Ha'aretz, published in Tel Aviv.

The British finance minister, George Osborne, must help the squeezed middle and tax the top earners, write two leading members of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the governing coalition, in the Guardian. Osborne is a Conservative.

The right fear has to be that quantitative easing will not work well enough, not that it will be damaging, writes a commentator in the Financial Times, under the headline “why quantitative easing is the only game in town”.

Slovenia has decided not to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza writes.

Hospodárske noviny has a short history of the still relatively short life of Smer, the party that won an outright majority in Slovakia's parliamentary elections on 10 March.

Poland's Gazeta Wyborzca looks at plans to introduce a voluntary tax option to support the Catholic church.

The Dutch government has opened a website where Polish migrants living in the Netherlands can file complaints over how they are being treated by temporary job agents, reports de Volkskrant. It says the website is meant to be a response to the anti-immigrant website launched by the extremist Freedom Party (PVV) which has been heavily criticised by the European Parliament.


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