Europe

EU referendum: What the European papers say

Screenshot of an online article by Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza on the UK EU referendum Image copyright Gazeta Wyborcza
Image caption "Please stay with us," Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza says

"Don't leave" has been the cry from many European papers over the past week amid tightening polls in the UK's EU referendum campaign.

Commentators fret about the impact a British exit could have on the EU and their countries, although a paper in France also worries about the consequences of a "Brexin".

"Britain, stay with us," pleads a commentary in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, and goes on to argue that Brexit will bring a range of ills, including encouraging the "triumph of isolationism as opposed to such values as cooperation and solidarity".

On the WPolityce website, historian Antonin Dudek says it is in Poland's "geopolitical interests that the UK remains in the EU", and wonders why not more Polish politicians are urging their compatriots in Britain to vote for Remain.

Image copyright Der Spiegel
Image caption Der Spiegel: "We need the British"

For one thing, he argues, the EU needs Britain's "realistic" vision of less Brussels bureaucracy and more powerful parliaments - a "good alternative to the utopian vision of the United States of Europe".

'Balance of power'

In Hungary, Hirado - the news website of state broadcaster MTVA - says a Leave victory could "be a dangerous precedent and trigger a domino effect in Europe" and warns Hungarian decision-makers to "prepare for a shift in the balance of power".

"We need the British desperately," says Germany's influential news magazine Der Spiegel firmly, and dismisses what it says is the received EU wisdom that the British are just "annoying".

Britain's "trust in the collective wisdom of the voters" is an antidote to the continental "tendency to sing the praises of democracy in Sunday speeches, while trying to trammel the chaotic, unpredictable element inherent in genuine popular sovereignty", it argues.

Image copyright Le Monde
Image caption "And if the British stayed," wonders Le Monde

"Without Britain, the EU will probably be completely lost to the mania that everything can be planned, every social problem solved through an action programme or a subsidy fund."

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung agrees, and warns Germany's leaders against heeding "fatalist" warnings that intervening in the UK debate would only help the Leave campaign.

"The EU is in the biggest crisis of its history," says the paper. "Strong enemies of the EU are only waiting to use Brexit for their own exit plans. It is high time they were counteracted with convictions."

'Prepare plan B'

But French paper Le Monde sees momentum behind the Remain camp, and instead wonders what happens to France if the "British were to stay".

Image copyright El Pais
Image caption El Pais: "Is Brexit so dangerous?"

"A 'Brexin' could reinforce an economic convergence of Germany and the United Kingdom, Europe's main economies," it warns. "To avoid marginalisation, France should prepare a plan B."

A commentator in Spain's El Pais bemoans what she says is the poor quality of the debate on both sides of the English Channel, and suggests that more people should be asking whether Brexit would really be "so dangerous".

"Everyone seems convinced that an exit would be a catastrophe, or at least a serious blow to the continent's unity," she writes.

"The fact that for the last 43 years British diplomacy has always and effectively fought against any idea of deepening European integration appears to be irrelevant."

In contrast, the editorial of another Spanish paper, El Mundo, believes a rupture would be "very negative because it would mean irreparable damage to what until now was considered an irreversible process of political integration".

In the Czech Republic, the Lidove Noviny daily's London correspondent also lambasts the level of the referendum debate in the UK, saying it deserves a "special section under the Wikipedia article on hypocrisy".

"The hypocrisy of what are otherwise honest British politicians has reached a level that would be described as comical, if it did not relate to such a serious matter," he writes.

A rare positive view on a possible Brexit comes from Bulgaria, where analyst Kuzman Iliev tells Bloomberg TV Bulgaria that it "may be a sign of awakening of public opinion in Europe against those politicians who badly interfere especially with countries such as Bulgaria".

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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