Richard North, 22/11/2012  

Welt 539-sie.jpg

Although the German press has been relatively quiet about the EU (multi-annual) budget, it is making up for lost time, with Spiegel dubbing Cameron "Mr No", then dismissing him in one short, pithy sentence: "He can only lose".

For all the torrent of verbiage that we are about to receive, it is unlikely that anything will be able to improve on that. Whichever way he plays it, Mr Cameron is faced with a lose-lose situation. The only thing he can influence is the precise manner of his losing, and the depth of his humiliation – and perhaps the timing, with the Council set to run until Sunday.

I guess that is what the arrogant fool Oborne was up to last night, working on the basis that if Cameron capitulated early and often, he could pretend that was the plan all along – that he was simply being "magnanimous".

Handelsplatt, on the other hand is treating the whole thing as a "trillion euro" poker game, noting that Merkel is already discounting the chances of success, working to the motto: "if your expectations are low, you won't be disappointed". The German chancellor seems already to have pencilled in another budget meeting for next year.

To Die Welt though, goes prize of the day for doing imaginative things to a deflated balloon (above). How this ties in with their watering can principle is less clear, even if one is informed that Merkel wants to stop it.

Here, we have a different focus on the budget debate – not about how much, but who controls the funds. Germany is bidding for more control – now there's a surprise. And Italy is resisting – an even bigger surprise. But, says a commenter, "Whether the funds are distributed from Germany with a watering can or a bucket - I do not really care".

Clearly, Herman Van Rompuy doesn't care – all he wants is the money, but FAZ is also having Merkel dampen expectations. It is "no big deal" if an agreement is not reached at this European Council, senior officials in Berlin have said.

Perhaps Mr Cameron should take heart from this, an apply his own motto: "he who turns and runs away lives to lose another day". And next time, he can bring his own watering can.


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