Europe

EU referendum: Press resigned to Brexit deal 'show'

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with European Council President Donald Tusk at Downing Street in London on 31 January 2016. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption All for show? Some in the European press believe the EU is doing all it can to help David Cameron

European commentators have been expressing reluctant acceptance of the EU reform deal tentatively agreed with the UK.

The negotiations are being widely depicted as a largely sham process designed to help David Cameron to convince sceptical Britons that he wrung painful concessions from the EU.

"The show can begin," Arnaud Leparmentier writes in France's Le Monde of the negotiations, which he says are about "nothing of substance".

"It's a game, of course, but like a wrestling match. Everyone is pretending to be in pain, but are really accomplices," he writes. "This wrestling match is designed to flatter the pride of the British, in order to convince them not to choose to sail off into the high seas."

Andre Tauber - correspondent for Germany's Die Welt - says Mr Cameron has been permitted the "pose of the great victor in order to mollify the obstreperous British".

"Neither Britain nor Europe can afford an exit from the European Union, either economically or politically. Everyone knows this," he adds. "The EU has delivered. The question is whether Cameron can deliver too".

Image copyright Le Monde
Image caption Press reflection: Le Monde says UK papers have "pummelled" Mr Cameron over the EU deal

In Poland, which has been vocally opposed to restrictions on benefits for EU migrants, the Gazeta Wyborcza daily says keeping Britain in the EU should be seen as Poland's overriding concern, even at the expense of Poles working in the UK.

"No matter how brutal but effective this is, it is worth sacrificing part of their benefit rights in Britain in order to save the EU from Brexit."

'Genuflection'

But not everyone is happy about playing along, and several commentators grumble about Mr Cameron's methods and motives.

In Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine, Nikolas Busse says Mr Cameron "put a pistol to the other member states' chest (and his own)", Christian Zaschke - in Sueddeutsche Zeitung - accuses him of "gambling with Europe's future" for the sake of his own political ambitions.

In Italy's Corriere della Sera, Franco Venturini wonders whether too has been conceded to London, "especially in a union which - amid unfulfilled agreements on migrants and courting Turkey - is already sacrificing crucial aspects of its identity".

Ralph Sina - correspondent for Germany's ARD public broadcaster - goes further, casting the concessions to Mr Cameron as a "genuflection" that "surrender core principles of the EU and turn it into a joke".

"The European Union is fighting for the United Kingdom's affection," he says. "But anyone who has to fight for affection has usually already lost."

For Jean Quatremer - in France's Liberation - the UK has an "existential problem in its relationship to the EU that no technical arrangement or any amendments to the European treaties will ever solve".

"Today's EU is already 'Made in Britain'," he argues. "Yet this is not enough for a political class and public opinion made hysterical by an anti-European press firing on all cylinders against this continental monster."

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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