For the European press, the budget adopted by the bloc on February 8 marks a contraction of Europe’s ambitions and tilts the balance of power within the EU.
According to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, the outcome of the most recent EU summit is proof of “a substantial shift in the balance of power in Europe”, with France, once the most influential country of the Union, “finding itself on the defensive”. The daily stresses that this is a completely new trend —
The Union will head towards the free trade zone dreamt of by the British and supported by the Germans rather than the ‘solidarity-driven federal structure’ wanted by Paris.- […] Surprisingly, a rather exotic alliance was created by France, Italy, Spain and Poland in defence of financial transfers, [resulting in] a clash between the rich North of the Union and the poor South and East […] However, there is no doubt that by imposing cuts Germany has shown its economic strength. Berlin’s dictate will be even harsher, while abundant transfers from Brussels may turn out to be only a nice memory if the Franco-Spanish-Italian-Polish club fails to improve its competitiveness.
In Germany, Die Welt believes that there is always “too much of the old Europe in this compromise” and criticises those who believe in a “European human right that guarantees that money will flow in from somewhere else.” It also advises the German government to ease back on its historical partnership with France —
Seldom before has Germany been such a heavyweight in the balance of power in Europe, one that by staying open to all sides remains compatible with all. Indeed, German interests overlap more often with London than they do with those of Paris.
In contrast, El País writes, “Europe is determined to treat pneumonia as if it were a simple cold […] and has come up with a skimpy deal” that “commits to austerity – and the scissors – for the next decade.” The daily continues —
Five years into the crisis, European budgets serve as a kind of compass for the European project. The EU seems distracted: it is moving along between the old and the new regimes while the old order is still standing and the new order has not yet been firmly established. In the midst of these doldrums, Berlin (supported by London) is increasing its power, and a withdrawal back towards the national or intergovernmental levels is emerging.