Europe

Brexit: Europe's media scorn Johnson's 'unrealistic' plans

European newspaper front pages
Image caption The story is making the front pages of many newspapers in the region

Irish newspapers are resoundingly unimpressed with Boris Johnson's proposed Brexit deal and many commentators in Europe are similarly dismissive of it.

Several say the UK prime minister's description of the Irish border issue as a "technical" one shows a lack of sensitivity to its political meaning.

Many believe his plans have less to do with formulating a realistic agreement and more to do with preparing for a general election. Some are frustrated at what they perceive to be the deliberate opacity of Mr Johnson's intentions.

Broadly, the view is that the chances of a no-deal Brexit are increasing.

'Complete lack of regard for Ireland'

Mr Johnson's proposals are "unrealistic and unworkable", says the Irish Times.

"A customs border would require checks, infrastructure and a much higher level of policing and monitoring than currently takes place... interventions of this kind would be toxic politically," the paper says.

"The prime minister and those around him have anticipated that this offer will be rejected and their primary objective in framing it in such a manner is their own domestic political advantage," it adds.

The Irish Independent, meanwhile, says Mr Johnson's plan for Brexit "asks too much and delivers far too little".

"Surrendering something tried, trusted and secure, for something that could result in a permanent Border does not seem a reasonable demand.

"There will have to be more talking. But the art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard," it concludes.

See also: What is Boris Johnson's plan to avoid a hard Irish border?

Johnson 'does not really want a deal'

The view from elsewhere in Europe is not dissimilar.

Image copyright DIENAS BIZNESS
Image caption "Have you read it yourself?" asks Brussels, in this cartoon from Latvia's Dienas Bizness

"Boris Johnson's new Brexit proposal is... equally bad for all," says a commentator in Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Another writer in Handelsblatt says the proposals show the prime minister "does not really want a deal".

"By making impossible demands on the EU, he shatters any chance of reaching an agreement. The fact that Johnson now forces the EU to customs controls should be perceived as a provocation," the article says.

Italy's La Repubblica also calls his proposal "a provocation", saying it could be "an attempt to exasperate the EU and to have doors slammed in his face, just as he would prefer".

His deal "gives a small region [Northern Ireland] a veto power. It is almost impossible to expect the EU - and Ireland in particular - to agree to this," says Lithuania's news website 15min.

"It is not an accident that Boris Johnson presented his alternative to the Irish backstop during today's [2 October] conference of the Conservative Party," says a commentary in Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza. "He is gearing up not for a compromise but for elections."

The article believes Mr Johnson will try to avoid delaying Brexit.

"This would mean a war with Brussels, the British parliament and neighbours in order to finally become a political martyr in the struggle for Brexit."

There is some sympathy for Mr Johnson's plans in Hungary's right-wing 888 website, though, which reports it with the headline "The Brits finally grew a gourd and gave an ultimatum to Brussels".

Image copyright LIBERATION
Image caption "Boris Johnson, the lover of contradictions" - French daily Liberation

Survival and blame

One writer in France's Liberation newspaper notes that Mr Johnson describes the Irish border as a "technical" issue although "the stakes are much deeper and more complicated".

"It is a question of politics, of peace, of identity, of preserving the integrity of the single market and... of the very survival of the EU," the writer says.

European leaders "are all carefully speaking about steps in the right direction... Europe wants to avoid at any cost Johnson being able to blame [it] for a hard Brexit", notes Belgium's De Standaard.

"Nobody in Brussels believes that enough time remains to negotiate a serious alternative to the backstop. Almost everybody agrees that even if a compromise acceptable for the EU were reached, Johnson would be unable to push it through parliament," says Italy's Il Foglio.

"It is also not possible to know what Johnson is thinking, who is ideologically neutral and for whom Brexit is nothing more than a path of the least resistance discovered on the way to power," says Spain's La Vanguardia.

Image copyright GAZETA WYBORCZA
Image caption "Premier Johnson is going to war with the EU and the British parliament" says this Polish daily

"Hard Brexit now looks unavoidable," says the Polish Rzeczpospolita.

And nations do not have confidence that Mr Johnson will seek an extension if no deal can be agreed before his Brexit deadline of 31 October.

"Boris Johnson seems prepared to defy the law to try to force a 'no-deal' Brexit," says Sweden's Dagens Nyheter.

"Whether the text is passed or not," says France's Le Parisien, "he would finally be able to escape the impasse he is trapped in: betray his promise to leave the EU... or trample on the law obliging him to ask for a delay".

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.

More on this story