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The paper clip, 5 April

Thursday 5 April 2012

The French presidential election, Portugal's financial future, and uproar at a new poem in Germany are among the top stories in Europe's newspapers today...

Alain Juppé, France's foreign minister, has said that France will take a more assertive stance within the European Union on immigration and trade if President Nicolas Sarkozy wins re-election, the Financial Times writes.

Le Figaro continues its focus on the upcoming French presidential elections and the relative merits of the promises of the main candidates. François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, has announced that he would cut the salaries of the president and members of government by 30%, tackle rising petrol prices and increase benefits for parents with school-age children. Libération reports that Sarkozy is due to announce similar measures today. It describes the election as coming down to a “fight about numbers” as each candidate accuses the other of “hidden” tax rises or budget cuts. Sarkozy's supporters have criticised Hollande for wanting to transform France “in the Greek model”.

“Portugal may need bailing out within a year” is a headline in the UK's Daily Telegraph. It says that Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and the euro, has admitted that the EU needs to be prepared to bail out Portugal for a second time. 

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, has refused to say whether he supports the Irish government's efforts to restructure some of its banking debt, the Irish Times writes.

The new Slovak government has been sworn in, promising austerity measures to control its deficit. Sme and Pravda have more.

The junior partner in the three-party Czech government, Veci verejné (VV, Public Affairs), has pulled back from its threat to leave the government. The possibility of a collapse of the government remains substantial, however, with growing exasperation at VV being expressed by other members of the government. Hospodárské noviny has a report.

Prosecutors in Italy are investigating the right-wing Northern League party for suspected fraud. Corriere della Sera, La Stampa and the UK's Guardian have more.

Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that German tax investigators were warned they could face arrest warrants for receiving stolen CDs containing details of German citizens with bank accounts in Switzerland. Switzerland has in recent days issued warrants for the arrest of some tax officials. FT Deutschland reports that Swizterland and Germany are supposed to sign a bilateral tax agreement today. The opposition Social Democrats and Greens are warning they will not support the agreement in the Bundestag. The SPD is calling for investigations into Swiss banks.

Hungary's government plans to introduce a financial transaction tax, Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy writes in Heti Valasz today.

A commentator in the Financial Times praises the UK's Financial Services Authority for arresting a trader who shared insider information, saying it displayed a salutary determination to end casual sharing of insider information.

It is still too soon to lift sanctions on Burma, writes a commentator in the UK's Times. Letting Aung San Suu Kyi fight these elections was more about the regime's self-preservation than true democracy, she argues.

The UK's Daily Telegraph says that US intelligence agencies refused to give their British counterparts full details of a terrorist plot in the UK because they feared that their top-secret sources would be exposed. The CIA warned MI6 that al-Qaeda was planning an attack 18 months ago, but withheld certain information because of security concerns. 

Oslobodjenje publishes a chronology of the siege of Sarajevo, which began 20 years today when Serb snipers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in the Bosnian capital. The war in Bosnia claimed 100,000 lives and displaced two million people, half the country's population. Oslobodjenje itself managed to publish a newspaper throughout the three-and-a-half years of the war, which ended with the Dayton peace accords of November 1995. The UK's Guardian has a report from Sarajevo, it says that “two decades after the conflict started, Bosnia is divided more than ever”.

Norbert Röttgen, Germany's environment minister, has launched his campaign for election as minister-president of North Rhine-Westphalia with a barnstorming speech to a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party congress in Mülheim, Handelsblatt reports. Röttgen received an overwhelming majority of votes, 238 from a total of 248, from party delegates for the nomination as the CDU's candidate. Elections in Germany's most populous state are being held on 13 May. The Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens are currently leading in the polls.

Russia will this month slash oil deliveries to the Czech Republic, to one-fifth of previous levels. It is diverting the oil to a new port. Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza looks at threats to Poland's gas supply.

Romania's Jurnalul National has a report on the ‘swarms' of Americans in Romania wanting to prospect for shale gas.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports from L'Aquila, in central Italy, a town that three years after a devastating earthquake is still largely empty despite millions spent on reconstruction.

The Israeli paper Ha'aretz writes that a member of the Hungarian parliament representing the far-right Jobbik party is refusing to step down after making what was widely viewed as an anti-Semitic speech yesterday criticising a 19th century court case that had found several Jews innocent of murdering a Hungarian peasant girl.

Günter Grass, the German writer, has caused uproar with a poem in which he criticises Israel, accusing the country of planning war with Iran. Grass's poem, “What must be said”, has drawn criticism from politicians across the political spectrum and the Israeli ambassador to Germany. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung and other newspapers report on the furore.

Bulgaria has begun building a motorway to its border with Greece, Dnevnik writes.

Bulgaria is Europe's worst waster of energy, Dnevnik reports President Rosen Plevneliev as saying.

Le Monde carries figures indicating that more people in France moved house in 2011 than any year before. The newspaper reports that the figures were 9% higher last year than in 2010.

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