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The paper clip, 24 April

Tuesday 24 April 2012

The fall-out from the French presidential election, slower progress than expected on a new Czech government, and Argentina on 'negative watch' are among the top stories today in Europe's newspapers...

Political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands has sent European stock markets tumbling, writes Turin's La Stampa, reporting on a 3.8% drop on Milan's bourse yesterday. Financial Times Deutschland reports that the Netherlands is retaining it triple-A credit-rating status despite the collapse of its government. The credit-rating agency Moody's has said that the country's finances remain strong.

Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande have been trading accusations since the first round of the French presidential election, the UK's Guardian writes. Sarkozy's team has accused Hollande of running scared after the Socialist candidate agreed to one debate with his rival rather than the three suggested by Sarkozy. Hollande's team responded by saying Sarkozy's offer was an attempt at manipulation. The UK's Independent says that fear has returned to the eurozone because of Hollande's lead in the first round of the French presidential election and the collapse of the Dutch government. “What next for the euro if France rejects austerity?” is a headline in the Daily Telegraph

Le Monde reports that National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who scored 18% in Sunday's first-round presidential election in France, has set a goal of gaining an equal percentage of seats in the French parliament in the legislature elections later this year. Meanwhile, Le Figaro reports that though Sarkozy has changed his rhetoric to woo Le Pen's voters, his Socialist rival  Hollande will not. Libération reports that Sarkozy has upped rhetoric against the EU's passport-free Schengen area. He said at a campaign appearance on Monday that the French “do not want a ‘sieve Europe'.”  He added: "Europe is not in control of its migration, it's over", promising to tell other member states this later in the week.

Czechs may not, after all, elect a new government within months: the Czech prime minister, Petr Necas, is seeking supporters to avoid snap elections and push through deficit cuts following the collapse of the three-party governing coalition. Necas has called a vote of confidence for Friday (27 April) to ascertain whether a splinter group that emerged from the junior partner in the coalition will support the continuation of a government. While agreeing to dissolve their coalition, the three parties in the government have agreed to support bills agreed by the government before 11 April when they go before parliament. Lidové noviny and Hospodárské noviny have reports.

Ireland's deputy prime minister has urged trade unions to back the EU's fiscal compact treaty, the Irish Times writes. Eamon Gilmore, leader of the Labour Party, the junior member of the coalition government, made the plea after three large Irish trade unions called for a ‘No' vote. 

Standard and Poor's, a credit-rating agency, has put Argentina on ‘negative watch' because of its plan to re-nationalise the oil company YPF, in which Spanish firm Repsol has a majority stake. The Daily Telegraph has a report.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's prime minister, expects that three disputes with the European Commission will end up before the European Court of Justice, writes Austria's Die Presse. The three disputes concern a salary cut for the national-bank governor, judges' pension age and the country's data-protection supervisor.

Separately, Orbán said yesterday that the Nabucco pipeline project, which is intended to reduce the European Union's reliance on Russian natural gas, was “in trouble” and that the Hungarian energy company MOL was pulling out. The New York Times has the story.

Najib Mikati, Lebanon's prime minister, is to hold talks in Brussels tomorrow and Thursday to boost economic ties and dissociate his country from the violence in next-door Syria, writes Beirut's Daily Star.

Unresolved problems in the Balkans are a danger for the EU, writes Der Standard in a commentary, but neither the EU nor the US is paying any attention.

Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister, has said that trade with Germany could double over the next three years but that issues of market access and protectionism have to be resolved, writes the Shanghai Daily. Wen spoke at Germany's main industry fair in Hanover.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung carries an interview with Andreas Dombret, a member of the Bundesbank, Germany's federal bank, in which he warns against long-term funding by the European Central Bank. He says that he agrees with the decision to boost the lending capacity of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but argues that “no firewall can ever be high enough to cover all negative scenarios”.

Ukraine's main two opposition parties said yesterday that they will join forces in parliamentary elections in October to challenge President Viktor Yanukovych, the Wall Street Journal writes.

The Kyiv Post writes that the jailed former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, is planning to lodge a lawsuit with a court in London this week against Ukrainian First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin about information given to the BBC. 

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