German press draw football parallel with summit outcome

Italy's Balotelli and Germany's Badstuber in Euro 2012 semi-final
Image caption Many in the German press drew parallels between the summit and Germany's loss to Italy in Euro 2012

It may be a defining moment for Chancellor Merkel. German magazines and newspapers from across the political spectrum and from high to low-brow have said she was out-manoeuvred in Brussels.

"The night Merkel lost" is the way the up-market magazine Der Spiegel puts it.

And "Merkel bows to Brussels", says the mass-market Bild.

According to Der Spiegel: "Italy and Spain broke the will of the iron chancellor by out-negotiating her in the early hours of Friday morning.

"Germany caved in to demands for less stringent bailouts and direct aid to banks".

Many of the papers make a connection between the stunning defeat of Germany by Italy in football - and at the negotiating table.

"As in football so also in the euro summit," said Der Spiegel, "Italy pushed through the central point and Chancellor Merkel buckled".

Die Zeit isn't much kinder, saying: "It's a victory for the southerners and a defeat for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel" - and the word Suedlander in the original German has a slight edge of scorn.

And here's Nikolaus Blome, Bild's star columnist: "In the language of football, the chancellor and the whole defence were concentrated in the centre of the penalty area - and Spain went down the wing. And the goals were scored."

'Buckled under pressure'

Bild, Germany's most popular newspaper, runs a line of headlines like a news ticker: "Merkel bows to Brussels +++ Crisis countries may tap into emergency funds without additional requirements to save +++ Cash injection for strapped banks."

Its analysis is: "The decisions made in Brussels mark a turning point in the crisis.

"Chancellor Angela Merkel has given up her tough stance. The chancellor seems to have buckled under the pressure put on by the Italians, Spaniards and French."

As she headed back to Berlin to address the Bundestag after the summit, Ms Merkel said: "We remain completely within our approach so far: help, trade-off, conditionality and control.

"And so I think we have done something important, but we have remained true to our philosophy of no help without a trade-off."

Tough sell

But that is not the way it is being viewed. Mark Schieritz, a writer with Die Zeit, told the BBC: "We see it as a defeat for Angela Merkel.

"It was compromise, so everybody had to cede some ground, but clearly the chancellor had to cross some red lines which she had drawn."

Image caption Chancellor Merkel is facing court challenges to key pieces of legislation

So what will the German people make of it? "I think they'll be upset and I think the members of parliament in the Bundestag will be upset, and I think it'll be a tough sell for her".

And the sell was already tough enough, according to the opinion polls which have shown growing unhappiness about bailouts.

On top of that, Chancellor Merkel is finding it harder to get measures through the German parliament.

A vote is expected on the "Fiskalpakt" which limits borrowing by the German government, but even if she gets the majority (which she probably will), the country's president will not ratify it immediately for it to become law.

The country's constitutional court has indicated that more challenges to bailouts and tough fiscal rules are on the way, so President Gauck wants to get clarity on the legal position first.

And headlines about "Merkel bowing to Brussels" and being outmanoeuvred by France, Spain and Italy do not play well.

They will not help Chancellor Merkel get the German people behind her - and it was already an uphill struggle.