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The paper clip, 25 May

Friday 25 May 2012

La Stampa has obtained a draft of a report by the European Commission on Italy's fiscal performance, which finds that the technocratic government of Mario Monti has made great advances but that more effort is needed. 

Propping up Bankia, a troubled Spanish lender created by the merger of several savings banks, might cost the Spanish government far more than previously thought, writes Germany's Handelsblatt. The bank is today scheduled to submit its plan for restructuring to the Spanish government and according to one insider will ask for €15 billion in support.

France's Le Figaro argues that France's President François Hollande has re-written the rules of the game with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, so much so that it is hard to talk of a Franco-German coupling. Hollande has shown good political acumen on the eurozone crisis, writes a commentator in the UK's Guardian.

Greece is “out of cash, out of hope”, the UK's Independent writes. It says that while the politicians are wrangling over the country's future, “daily reality of the eurozone crisis is driving Greeks to despair”.

Greece is screening the records of some 500 current and former officials, from parliamentarians and mayors to prefects and advisers, after discrepancies between their income declarations and their real-estate holdings were detected, Kathimerini writes.

Turkey has benefitted from a flight of foreign investors and tourists from Greece, writes Austria's Die Presse, and joining the EU is becoming less and less popular.

Ratification of the EU's fiscal compact poses a dilemma for Germany's opposition Social Democrats, writes the Suddeutsche Zeitung. Supporting ratification would boost the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, while rejecting it would make the SPD appear irresponsible.

Angela Merkel has said that Germany will not allow any changes to the EU's fiscal treaty, before or after the Irish referendum, which takes place on Thursday (31 May). The Irish Times has a report.

EU-led talks with Iran on its nuclear programme are to be continued in Moscow next month, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Slovakia's prime minister, Robert Fico, wants to end his country's flat tax. Hospodárske noviny has a report.

The British papers are dominated by an inquiry looking into the relationship between the UK's culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, and the media empire of Rupert Murdoch. Yesterday's hearings revealed a memo written by Hunt to UK Prime Minister David Cameron that showed that Hunt was strongly in favour of allowing Murdoch to take over a pay TV station weeks before he was given the task of deciding on the issue; Hunt was given the quasi-independent role because his predecessor, Vince Cable, was caught saying that he was waging a “war” against Murdoch. The Conservative-friendly Daily Telegraph is among the papers concerned.

A Turkish court has jailed Leyla Zana, a Kurdish parliamentarian, for ten years for membership of a terrorist organisation, Today's Zaman writes. Zana, one of the most prominent Kurds in Turkish political life, was found guilty on the basis of comments she made years ago about the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Three smaller parties in Serbia's parliament have called on the Democratic Party of Boris Tadic to declare within 24 hours who it wants to propose as the country's next prime minister, writes Danas. The three parties - including the Socialist Party, which has emerged as kingmaker in elections earlier this month - are potential members of a Democrat-led ruling coalition.

A senior BP executive has said that a BP-led consortium has rejected Nabucco, an EU-supported project to bring Caspian gas to central Europe, writes the Suddeutsche Zeitung.

Unused needs and unused hands cannot exist side by side indefinitely, writes a commentator in the Financial Times, arguing for “a new Europe of competing currencies”.

The number of Irish MPs is expected to be cut under plans for electoral reform to be published next month, the Irish Times writes. The report will recommend wholesale changes to boundaries and a reduction in the number of MPs by eight to 158.

Only one in three Scots want independence, according to an opinion poll, the Daily Telegraph writes.

Corriere della Sera reports on the declining fortunes of the party of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Spain's El País writes that the election for the Egyptian presidency is a battle largely between the old regime and Islamist forces.

The Czech weekly Týden reports that the European Court of Auditors has found that Czech auditors systematically adjusted audit results so as to reduce the number of mistakes to or below 2%. Separately, the online publication Ceske noviny writes that a new senior regional leader has concluded that the distribution of EU funds in the Ústí nad Labem and Karlovy Vary regions was riddled with corruption.

Two influential figures in the UK's Conservative and Labour parties, David Davis and Jack Straw, argue in the Daily Telegraph that the UK must defy the European Court of Human Rights, because it has exceeded its authority in trying to overrule British law on voting rights for prisoners.

Le Monde reports that French president Francois Holland has made a surprise visit to French troops in Afghanistan. There is concern that the remaining French troops there could feel demoralised because Hollande has promised to pull them out of the country by the end of the year.

Le Figaro reports that new French interior minister Manuel Valls will today meet 15 police unions.
Liberation reports that new French transport minister Frédéric Cuvillier has said he is opposed to any plan for non-voluntary redundancies at Air France. The national carrier is under pressure to reduce costs and increase productivity.
The rebalancing of global power was never going to be easy but the speed of the turnaround has been breathtaking, argues a commentator in the Financial Times.

Brazil has a proud record of protecting the environment, but a bill allowing deforestation would undermine the Rio+20 summit, writes a commentator in the UK's Guardian.


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