EU referendum: What the European papers say

Article in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on 16 May 2016. Image copyright Corriere della Sera
Image caption Corriere della Sera: "Brexit - an opportunity for Italy"

From visions of financial disaster, Europe falling apart to the UK kicking out EU migrants - European press commentators have had little good to say about the prospects of Britain's Leave camp winning.

Some look on the bright side of a potential Brexit, and see advantages either in the chance for a fundamental rethinking of the EU, or in the shape of business moving out of Britain.

Germany: 'Money at stake'

In the German papers, some are surprised by many Britons' apparent resistance to evidence suggesting a Leave vote could come with a significant economic price.

"Are these Britons crazy?" asks regional daily Mittelbayerische Zeitung, using a quote from French comic Asterix in Britain that is widely known among Germans.

Pointing to dire warnings about the effects of a Brexit in a "disinterested" internal UK government paper, it wonders how "over 40% of Britons can actually still believe it could be a good idea to get out".

Image copyright Die Zeit
Image caption Die Zeit thinks German businesses' pro-Leave interventions have been "poison for the debate"

Der Tagesspiegel believes the risks of Brexit are so serious that the G7 group of nations should debate what support they can provide to the Remain campaign.

"Waiting and drinking tea is not enough," it points out. "Money is at stake - a lot of money. A Brexit would shake the economic environment of the entire world."

Brexit supporters have the "weaker arguments", weekly Die Zeit finds, including the "bold" assumption that a departed Britain will still be able to negotiate full access to the EU market.

But the paper warns German firms against writing anti-Brexit letters to their employees, saying this could look like "blackmail".

France: 'Rethink EU'

Image copyright Le Parisien
Image caption Le Parisien launches a debate on whether "Brexit would be so bad"

In France, Le Parisien voices alarm at polls suggesting Brexit has become "possible, even probable".

"The shock would be terrible because since its entry into the common market, the UK, despite being jealous of its sovereignty and historically closer to Washington than Brussels, has provided enough evidence of its commitment to the European Union," the paper argues.

Image copyright Le Figaro
Image caption France's Le Figaro: "Why Brexit would be very bad for the British"

In an economic analysis, Le Figaro comes to the conclusion that Brexit will be "disastrous" for the United Kingdom, in particular by worsening even further its already large balance of payments deficit.

Business paper Le Nouvel Economiste believes that, whatever the result, Britain's referendum offers the EU a chance to renew itself.

"If the UK leaves the union, Europe will have lost one of its children," it says, but adds: "The referendum should force us to (re)think what we Europeans want to build".

Spain: 'Historic crossroads'

Image copyright El Mundo
Image caption Spain's Le Figaro: "Brexit and the European crossroads"

Spain's El Pais daily believes Brexit - made likely by "voices of populism and imperial nostalgia" - is "global risk", and calls for an intervention in the campaign by the IMF.

In El Mundo, commentator Casimiro Garcia-Abadillo thinks the significance of a Brexit would be heightened by the fact that it "comes at one the most critical moments that European the foundation we have built ever faced".

"We are at very difficult and historic crossroads," he writes. "In the coming months, the future of Europe will be at stake."

Italy: 'Opportunity' knocks

Italian daily Corriere della Sera argues that, whatever the results of the British referendum, the centrifugal forces in the EU are here to stay.

"Whether the British get out or remain on their own conditions, there will be an irresistible temptation for the Nordic countries, for the former Communist countries, and perhaps even France (there is already talk of Frexit)," it argues. "It will be the dissolution anyway."

But another article in the same paper sees in Brexit - despite the "many risks" for the wider EU - an "opportunity" for Italy, and especially its financial centre, Milan.

"If Brexit wins, some financial institutions that have their European headquarters in London will move part of their activities to the continent," it forecasts.

Netherlands: 'Brexit no exit'

The Dutch paper De Volkskrant warns Britain's pro-Leave camp that hopes it can rid itself of EU influence are misplaced, especially if the bloc decides to make the country "pay a price" in trade terms for its departure.

"A Brexit does bring exit," says the paper. "Indeed, the British will get only more annoyances from the EU if they choose to leave."

Image copyright Mlada fronta Dnes
Image caption Czech paper Mlada fronta Dnes asks "what will happen if the British leave the European Union"

Poland: 'Pack your bags'

Polish paper Wiadomosci takes a look at how EU immigrants to Britain feel about a possible exit from the EU.

"They built their future here, contributing to the country's development," it says in its introduction. "Now they're afraid Britain will tell them to pack their bags."

Among the people it talks to is Macias from Spain, who says he is so afraid of Brexit he spends his evenings destroying pro-Leave leaflets.

"The British talk as if they have their own powerful continent drifting in the middle of the sea," he says. "You're Europeans. Accept it."

Czech Republic: 'Poignancy'

For Czech paper Mlada fronta Dnes, the political consequences of Brexit would be "dire".

"The exit of a big member state would upset the EU's internal balance of power," it says, adding that the departure of such a major ally in the union would be of "added poignancy" for the Czech Republic.

But it also believes that even if the British opt for Remain, the EU will "be less cohesive, more fragmented and more prone to anti-integration tendencies than before".

In Romania, broadcaster Antena 3 fears that Brexit will either be a step towards the EU's disintegration, or lead to the creation of a "two-speed Europe" dividing East from West.

"These are developments that are against Romania's interests," it adds.

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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