Today Europe is preoccupied with finance. Finland threatens to block the Portuguese bail out, The European Commission looks to increase its budget, and Greece is on the edge of further unrest as austerity measures lead to restructuring. Meanwhile in Berlin NATO foreign ministers discuss the way forward in Libya including the recent call for Gaddafi to step down by the Libya Contact Group (live streams available from NATO).
Commission to demand 2012 budget increase (European Voice)
The European Commission will next week propose that the budget for the European Union in 2012 should be increased from its current level. The proposal will set in train a prolonged period of wrangling between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, over both the total level of spending and the allocation of the budget to specific policy areas.
High tension as restructuring looms (Ta Nea)
“The rejection by several ministers of further budget cuts to their ministries has soured the atmosphere on the eve of the official announcement of the 2012-2015 stability programme” affirms Ta Nea. The left-wing daily reports that tensions are mounting within Prime Minister George Panpandreou’s government in the run-up to the Friday 15 April announcement of the European Commission approved austerity plan. While “some MPs are making no secret of the fact that they have considered resigning,” others, like the Minister for Labour, do not know where they can make further cuts to bring their budgets into line with the new policy. “Tension is mounting within the Greek government at a time when the scenario of the restructuring of the country’s sovereign debt has once again taken centre stage. The Greek Minister for Finance has ruled out this possibility, but his German counterpart has said it is on the cards for 2013.” (Full Text in Greek)
Talks between BP and AAR about the British oil firm buying out its Russian partner in joint venture TNK-BP "have now more-or-less collapsed", says BBC business editor Robert Peston.
There is now an even chance that Finland will block eurozone aid to Portugal, a move that could throw into doubt the euro zone’s ability to ensure its own financial stability, a Finnish finance ministry official said.
NATO ministers vow to continue Libya mission ‘as long as necessary’ (Deutsche Welle)
NATO foreign ministers meeting in Berlin reaffirm their commitment to the mission in Libya. They also attempted to bridge internal differences over the way the military campaign is being led.
Ministers set deadline for migration strategy (European Voicet)
Commission to draw up plans before 12 May, as thousands of migrants arrive in Italy and Malta. Member states’ interior ministers have set a deadline of next month for the European Commission to come up with plans to stem migration from north Africa.
Berlusconi says he won’t stand for reelection (Radio Netherlands World)
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is unlikely to seek reelection at the next elections in 2013 and has named a possible successor as incumbent Justice Minister Angelo Alfano
The Palestinian Authority has welcomed endorsement of a UN report on institution building as a "birth certificate" for statehood amid Israeli concern over a potential unilateral declaration of independence.
The Ad-hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on Palestine at a meeting in the EU capital on Wednesday (13 April) endorsed a UN report which says that in six key areas – rule of law, the economy, education, health, social protection and infrastructure – in the West Bank "government functions are now sufficient for a functioning government of a state."
EDITORIALS AND COLUMNS:
Sense and sensibility (The Economist)
Good sense is in short supply in the tangled story of Lithuanian-Polish misunderstandings. The story is too long to summarise here, but the two countries share a common history over past centuries, but see it differently. Lithuanians tend to think they are being bullied by Poles. Poles tend to think that Lithuania is maltreating a Slavic minority (Polish in Polish eyes, more complicated according to Lithuanians).
After the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s, US regulators lied about the health of American banks until they were in a position to take a voluntary haircut on their bad loans. The Brady Plan holds important lessons for euro-zone governments looking for a way out of the current debt crisis.
The dangerous game of bailing out (Týžděň)
After Greece and Ireland, now it’s Portugal’s turn. But isn’t helping out indebted countries with the money of other indebted countries going to kill the euro? A Slovak columnist doesnt understand just what the EU is playing at.
Country on verge of nervous breakdown (Lidové noviny)
The Czech Republic “is the land of the cockroach,“ [for Czechs a “cockroach” is a stool pigeon] announces Lidové noviny, in reference to an ongoing political scandal in the country. The affair “has assumed gigantic proportions“ with reports of secret recordings in the ranks of the Public Affairs Party (VV), a member of the ruling coalition, which has already expelled an MP accused of plotting a putsch in the VV with the support of Prime Minister Peter Nečas’ Civic Democratic Party. The latest news comes in the wake of corruption allegations against the VV’s founder Vít Bárta by the expelled MP and other party members. “Is the putsch story a hoax?” wonders the Prague daily. One thing is certain: “The suicidal government” is falling apart. “For years, Czech society has tolerated political corruption and the manner in which politicians discredited their adversaries in the media,” remarks Lidové noviny. “But in the past we only saw fragments that rose to the surface, whereas now we are treated to live coverage of a society of cockroaches.” (Full Text in Czech)