Log in
A+ A A-

The European debate seen through the European Press

It wasn't the first debate for the prospective European Commission president, but it was the first with all the main contenders. However, for European media it wasn't a “hot” topic.


Everyone took a shot at austerity and almost everyone took a shot at Juncker, while all agreed that the next commission president should be one of the five.
“All against Juncker,” says El Pais, noting that the EPP candidate in many ways represents the model followed by the EU to resolve the crisis in recent years. The Spanish newspaper also noted that the debate got more interesting as it went along, especially when Schulz assailed Merkel, and Tsipras asked Juncker about what happened in Cannes and the efforts to change governments in Greece and Italy. The necessary reference to Catalonia was also made, with Juncker the only candidate coming clearly against a referencum.

Belgian newspaper Le Soir states “Verhofstadt defended fiscal discipline.” The newspaper stresses the central role the economy played in the debate and set out what the former Belgian PM said about Greece, in effect that for its plight “bad politicians and banks funding parties” were to blame.
The French press also referred to the central role played in the debate by the austerity issue. Liberation's reporter in Brussels noted that what impressed him was the lack of “exit the euro” type slogans, maybe because, as he assesses, everyone comprehends the negative consequences of such a move. For Jean Quatreme, Ska Keller was the winner of the debate, but “Tsipras did excellent.”
The BBC saw that “Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister and the Liberals' candidate, crackled with energy,” while Schulz being placed in the panel's center seemed more “presidential.” For the BBC, Ska Keller garnered the most applause.

Deutsche Welle saw “Jean-Claude Juncker, Ska Keller, Guy Verhofstadt, and Martin Schulz defended the euro rescue, some more vehemently than others,” while all candidates prioritized unemployment with different degrees of ardor. The German agency noted that: “The only one to shake things up a bit was the European Left candidate, Alexis Tsipras, who is heading a very successful party alliance against the bailouts and austerity program in Greece. Tsipras called for an end to austerity and more debt, the exact opposite of current EU policy.”, and added that “the fundamental nature of the European Union must be changed. We need to offer a new vision. We need an alternative to austerity and strict budgets." However as it noted Tsipras didn't give specifics for this alternative.

Despite the German media preoccupation with who will the next commissioner be, most references to the debate on Thursday were limited. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Sueddeutsche Zeitung limit themselves to copying the German news agency that focuses on the “strong stance against Putin,” requested by all candidates.