Europe

Viewpoints: European reporters

Journalists in the EU summit press centre, Brussels (27 May)

Europe's media are digesting election results which saw big gains for Eurosceptic parties, and are asking whether the balance of power in the EU will change.

As EU government leaders met behind closed doors in Brussels, the BBC's Laurence Peter sought opinions on the elections from European reporters covering the summit.

Javier Caceres - Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The leader of Germany's Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party, Bernd Lucke, in Berlin after the election

I think one of the big lessons is that Europe is still struggling to attract the voters. The voter turnout was pretty poor. The mainstream centre parties lost ground, and that's quite worrying for those who think that Europe is a project that deserves to be defended.

In Spain, the drop for the two biggest parties was from about 80% some years ago to less than 50%. They lost five million votes - something that had been inconceivable.

All over Europe, you have discontent - you see it also in Germany, which is the country with the most split party landscape in the European Parliament. Germany is sending MEPs from 14 different parties. Having a seat in the parliament will give the German neo-Nazis more publicity maybe, but it's not a really big worry.

A clash of EU institutions will depend pretty much on the position of UK Prime Minister David Cameron. I don't know if he wants to force such a clash.

Maciej Sokolowski - TVN24 television channel (Poland)

Image copyright AP
Image caption Poland hopes to get the energy commissioner post, because of issues such as the Russian gas pipelines

I don't think people in Poland are very interested in getting information about the EU. Turnout in Poland was a little better than five years ago. There's a paradox - we really like the EU, everyone says we gain a lot from being in it, but we're not voting, and that's the main problem. We don't know why, really.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said it was a mistake that Poland joined the EU, and of course we don't like that. We're afraid that maybe David Cameron will have to go that way, because he would also like to gain more votes, so he might change direction.

The Polish conservatives are not like the ones in the UK.

If Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski got the EU foreign affairs job, it may be very good for him, but maybe not for our country. It would be much better for Poland to get the energy commissioner post, because of shale gas, the Russian gas pipelines. We could change energy policy into something real for Poland. On Ukraine, many people in Poland said the EU was too slow - just talk, and not enough action.

Olatz Arrieta - Basque ETB public television (Spain)

Image caption In Spain, small parties such as Podemos got a lot of support

In Spain, support went to small parties - even new parties, for example Podemos, which was founded three months ago. They didn't have any money, but they got a lot of support. The same thing happened across the EU - the big parties lost support.

I think the Le Pen (National Front) victory in France and that of UKIP in the UK is like a warning sign that something is happening. We all know that people are not happy with the way things have been working in Europe, especially with austerity. But in Spain, the vote went to populist and leftist parties. People were surprised by what happened - it was much bigger than opinion polls had predicted.

People in Spain are saying that a different kind of economic policy has to be implemented, based on jobs and growth. But there are big differences in Europe too, among the EU countries.

Many people don't know who the candidates for Commission president are, though we in the Spanish media have covered it a lot.

I don't think the European Parliament has the power to change many things, but I think there are going to be more critical voices, against the policies we've been seeing.

Juergen Gevaert- Belga news agency (Belgium)

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) did not do so well in Belgium, losing nearly all seats

The Eurosceptic voices are being heard by the electorate - it's an indication that citizens are not very happy with the way Europe is being governed.

Nobody is surprised about the National Front's success in France. You could sense that Marine Le Pen was going to do well. I don't think there would be much support for her policies in Belgium.

In Flanders, we have a party which was affiliated with Marine Le Pen, Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), but their result was terrible - they lost nearly all their members of parliament, in the federal parliament and in the Flemish parliament. Vlaams Belang has almost disappeared now.

The idea of Britain leaving the EU is not a topic in Belgium. Ordinary citizens are not bothered by it. I don't think they realise what is at stake.

I think Belgian voters are quite open to reforming the EU and making it function better. People are open to the idea of the EU having more authority to pull Europe out of the crisis. They're not Eurosceptic like in a lot of other countries.

Dmitry Soshin - Russian Channel One Public TV (Russia)

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Russians are more preoccupied with the situation in Ukraine

The election is important because an earthquake shook not just the UK, but lots of countries on the continent. But the nationalists don't have a majority - just more blocking power in the new parliament. I think it's a good wake-up call for the European leaders.

I think the Russians are more preoccupied with the situation in Ukraine. That's the main reason we're here today. On Ukraine, Russia would like to see openness, sincerity, the absence of double standards - because we've had a bit of that recently.

We had a fantastic dialogue on visas - the EU was closing in on the decision to give Russians a chance to travel in the Schengen (passport-free) area. That would be welcomed by many Russians who do business, study, travel as tourists.

In the Baltic republics, there's a bit of paranoia among some leaders about the threat of Russia, and they are of course using the shield of the EU to attack Russia on the diplomatic level.

On the energy policy, given the new Russian contract with China, I think Europe should be more concerned than Russia, to be honest, and the pipelines are being built. If you want to go to other sources of energy, that's your decision.

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