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9th March 2010

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  reports that George Papandreou, Greece's prime minister, has warned of another financial crisis on the scale of the last one if Greece does not get help to overcome its deficit crisis. Papandreou was speaking before a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, DC to discuss Greece's financial situation. Papandreou also called for stricter international regulation of hedge funds, saying that they had made Greece's financial problems worse by betting that Greece would default on its debts.

 The EU is wary of involving the International Monetary Fund in assisting member states such as Greece and is therefore considering setting up an internal mechanism for such situations, writes   Die Presse.

Süddeutsche Zeitung  reports that Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, are planning stricter regulations on speculators. The two leaders are planning to write to José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, to ask him to take action to stamp out naked short-selling (where traders sell securities they do not have) and ban credit default swaps. Sarkozy and Merkel are said to have the support of Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurogroup, and George Papandreou, Greece's prime minister. The article also says that Merkel is opposed to creating a European Monetary Fund to help eurozone members in a financial crisis, unlike her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, who said he would present proposals for such a fund soon.   Die Welt  and   Handelsblatt  also carry stories about Sarkozy and Merkel trying to tackle speculators.   FT Deutschland  reports that the European Central Bank is opposed to setting up a European Monetary Fund.
Austria's government is to agree today on a package of measures to slash the country's budget deficit, writes Der Standard. The Austrian daily reports that equal parts of the savings are to come from tax hikes and expenditure cuts. Also under consideration is a raise in VAT.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, has come up with a suggestion to improve her much-criticised performance – her own aircraft.   The Times says Ashton is expected to clock-up 500,000 km a year for the next five years.

Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Spain's foreign minister, met Libya's leader, Muammar Qaddafi, yesterday in a bid to resolve a visa row between Libya and Switzerland, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung  writes. Switzerland imposed an entry ban on more than 150 top officials from Libya after the country refused to honour an agreement on the release of two Swiss hostages. Since Switzerland is a member of the Schengen area, to which most EU countries belong, the ban affects Libyan travel to the EU as well.

Le Monde  reports that Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot president, and Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader, yesterday held a three-hour negotiation session on reunifying the island. The paper says that both sides are intensifying their efforts to reach an agreement ahead of Ali Talat's likely replacement in April by Dervis Eroglu, a nationalist.

Unions in Belgium say that General Motors and Opel told them they are willing to discuss plans that would keep open Opel's Antwerp plant, which employs around 2,500 people, report De   Standaard  and   De Morgen. Unions are proposing to keep production of the Opel Astra in Antwerp. “I see a real chance to find a solution for the Antwerp plant that would be acceptable to all parties,” Klaus Franz, GM Europe's top union representative, told De Morgen. Franz is due to hold talks with Opel management at its headquarters in Germany today. According to Franz, GM Europe has worked out “a concept” for Antwerp, reports De Morgen.

Berlingske Tidende  writes that Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, will today play down the EU's pressure on China and the US on climate change. Hedegaard, who will present the Commission's climate-change targets to the European Parliament today, will also put less emphasise on reaching a deal on climate change at COP15, which will be held in Mexico City in December.

Acting Dutch Premier Jan Peter Balkenende will lead his CDA Christian Democrats into the 9 June elections, report the   NRC Handelsblad  and the Volkskrant. Party bosses met yesterday to evaluate the party's poor showing in last week's municipal elections, but they chose to stick with their leader, according to Peter van Heeswijk, party chairman. Balkenende's leadership has been questioned in wake of the poor election showing and the collapse of the coalition government last month. The meeting came as Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, announced he would take up a seat on the municipal council in The Hague, but still keep his seat in the Dutch parliament. Wilders' party is running neck-and-neck with the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party of Wouter Bos, according to polls last week.

Canadian MPs will be served seal meat this week in support of hunters fighting an EU ban on products from the animals, the   Guardian  writes.

In an interview with   El Mundo, Janez Potocnik, the European commissioner for the environment, says that the EU needs to “rationalise” its environment policies. Potocnik says that the EU has failed to apply existing laws, which he thinks are good enough to protect the environment, and that European business has to be more willing to compromise. Potocnik also points to biodiversity as the main area where action is needed.

Die Welt  reports that Robert Fico, Slovakia's prime minister, has called for Roma children to be placed in boarding schools to ensure they receive a decent education.

Immigrants in EU countries sent more than €32 billion in remittances back home, writes   Die Presse, citing figures for 2008. According to the World Bank, global remittances amounted to more than €200bn compared with just €88bn in development aid.

Handelsblatt  reports that Airbus has lost out on a US order for tanker aircraft worth €35 billion after its US partner Northrop Grumman withdrew a joint proposal with the European aircraft maker, claiming unfair competition. Airbus management accused the US administration of being biased.   FT Deutschland  also carries the story.  

  Sweden's   Dagens Nyheter  writes that Ban Ki-moon used International Women's Day to appoint Ann-Marie Orler to head the United Nations' police world force. Orler will take charge of nearly 13,000 police from 90 nations participating in 15 missions across the world.

Turkey lags far behind other countries in a survey of economic gender equality released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yesterday, writes Today's Zaman. Just 23% of Turkish women are employed, compared with an OECD average of 58%.

Le Monde  reports that French magistrates and lawyers will today demonstrate against planned penal reforms that they say would be the “death” of France's judicial system. The demonstration has forced the rescheduling of many of the cases that were supposed to be heard in France today. The reforms include job cuts and doing away with investigating magistrates.

Le Monde  reports on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's frustrated efforts to ensure that his People of Liberty (PoL) party can still field candidates in Rome for this month's regional elections. The PoL failed to register a list of candidates for the Lazio region (which includes Rome) on time because of what the Italian media is describing as a "comedy of errors". These include that the offical charged with submitting the list to the authorites first turned up too early, and then returned too late, claiming he had lost track of time while buying a sandwich. Berlusconi on Friday announced that he would change the law so that the PoL could still field candidates. But an Italian tribunal yesterday refused to register the list presented by the PoL.

Ireland 's minister for arts, sports and tourism has announced that he will retire from public life later this month because of chronic back pain. Martin Cullen was expected to step down in the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle but changed his plans because his condition has worsened in recent months. With Cullen's departure the government will have 84 votes in the parliament, compared to 78 for the combined opposition. Three by-elections are in the offing. The Irish Times  has the story.

The boss of Irish bank AIB walked away with total pay and benefits of almost €900,000 last year even though the bank needed a €3.5 billion bailout from taxpayers to survive, the   Irish Independent  reports.

Le Figaro  has an interview with Jacques Gounon, the chief executive of Eurotunnel. Gounon says that the company made a profit of €1.4 million in 2009. He says that the company faced "serious adversity" in 2009 - a reference to the impact of the September 2008 fire in the tunnel. But he says that the company's future prospects were improved by the London 2012 Olympics and by the planned launch of high-speed services between London and Amsterdam.

This Friday will mark the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, Serbia's first democratic prime minister, writes   Dans. Djindjic was killed by a sharpshooter's bullet in front of the prime minister's office in central Belgrade. The paper writes that Serbia lost precious years under Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica, who was in office in 2004-2008.



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