EU referendum: What the world papers say

France's Le Figaro 22 June 2016 Image copyright Le Figaro
Image caption France's Le Figaro fears "Brexit contagion"

Newspapers in Europe and beyond have their final say on Britain's EU referendum, and some fear that a vote to leave will encourage populist, Eurosceptic movements across the continent.

'Domino effect'

A large photo of last night's Wembley Stadium debate dominates the front page of France's Le Figaro, under the headline "Europe at risk of contagion" from Euroscepticism. "Europe fears a 'domino effect' and threatens to increase the bill for Britain if it leaves the EU," the paper says.

It turns to British affairs analyst Pauline Schnapper to assess the risk, and she warns that "other countries are ready to pour through the breach opened by the United Kingdom, using the threat of a referendum to blackmail Brussels into giving in to their demands".

Le Figaro's economic reporter Marie Bartnik sees Finland, Denmark and Sweden in Northern Europe, the Netherlands, and Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic in Central Europe as the countries most likely to exploit a British vote to leave.

European affairs analyst Vivien Pertusot cautions that none of those countries have as complicated a relationship with Europe as Britain, but adds that "this does not absolve the European Union from a much-needed overhaul of its institutions".

Le Monde's front-page editorial warns against the "danger of Brexit", saying it is not simply a "challenge to future relations between Britain and Europe, but rather questions nothing less than the entire European project".

The paper praises Britain's "very Anglo-Saxon" contribution to this project in terms of promoting free trade, expansion into Eastern and Central Europe, developing European law, moving the Europe Union "away from the federal dream", and fears that a Europe without Britain will be a poorer place.

France's Liberation takes a more sideways look at the campaign. It visits South Wales, which it dubs the "land of the left and Brexit", and attributes the apparent paradox of UKIP doing so well in this traditionally Labour-voting region to the impact of East European migrants.

It also examines how the referendum has played out on the internet, citing French research that suggests "Brexit has already won the campaign on social media" because the Leave campaign has more online activists and "engages more on platforms and in terms of sharing content".

'Showdown before the showdown'

Image copyright Tageszeitung
Image caption Die Tageszeitung thinks it "ironic" that David Cameron was absent from the Wembley debate

Many German newspapers agreed with the dpa correspondent report from the Wembley debate that "judging by the applause alone, Vote Leave's Boris Johnson was the winner".

Die Zeit saw it as a "fierce verbal confrontation" between Boris Johnson and his successor as Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says it "presented the image of a deeply divided country" with the two sides "irreconcilable and disunited", and wonders how many people watched it, given that it clashed with the Euro 2016 tournament. "The football was the preferred topic down the pub," the paper concludes.

Der Tagesspiegel thought "the big winner of the night" was "tough and combative" Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who "secured a draw for the EU camp".

Berlin's Die Tageszeitung dubs the debate the "showdown before the showdown", and thinks it "ironic" that Prime Minister David Cameron was absent from this "battle of the leading antagonists". As for the referendum itself, it says the "high-voltage" campaign is balanced "fifty-fifty".

Sueddeutsche Zeitung has stern words for the Leave campaign.

Its London correspondent Christian Zaschke sees Europe as "just a safety valve" in a debate about British post-imperial identity, noting that the "Leave campaign only came alive when it turned to the question of immigration".

And the paper's economy editor Marc Beise professes himself "completely relaxed" about the prospect of Britain leaving the EU. In a video report on the newspaper's website, he says that "if Britain goes, it will mostly hurt itself". Although he acknowledges that the political impact on Europe might be significant, the "consequences for the German economy would be manageable".

'Two parallel Europes'

Image copyright Corriere della Sera
Image caption Italy's Corriere della Sera says "Britain votes"

In Italy's Corriere della Sera, Antonio Armellini agrees that "Brexit could prove to be a pernicious virus and deliver a mortal blow to the idea of a politically-integrated union that Italy counts as a priority".

He says the EU should return to a "hard core of the six founding countries" and an outer ring of more autonomous member states in order to recover its cohesion. "We need two parallel Europes in order to relaunch Europe", he concludes.

In Poland, Rzeczpospolita's Brussels correspondent Anna Slojewska thinks the "EU crisis will continue whether Britain votes Brexit or Bremain", as Britain has an opt-out on the two major problems - the eurozone and migration.

Gabor Stier in Hungary's Magyar Nemzet sees the referendum and new elections in Spain as likely to "deepen fault lines in Europe", and calls for the EU to find a "golden mean between selfishness and solidarity, because of the threat of terrorism".

Croatia's 24 Sata tabloid has an article by Brussels-based analyst Carsten Nickels saying that any domino effect would first be felt in the Nordic countries with strong populist movements. "Denmark and Sweden in particular belong to this high-risk group," he says.

Slovenian economist Joze P. Damijan thinks Britain leaving is the "only way to shock the EU into its senses". In an article on the Fokuspokus site that was reprinted elsewhere in the Slovenian press, he explains that "If Britain stays, nothing will change. Why should it, if there's no pressure?"

Ukrainian newspapers also have the domino effect in mind, but see an opportunity for their country.

Analyst Ihor Kushnir tells the Vesti daily that Britain's departure might prompt the EU to "make up for the loss with enlargement", perhaps including Ukraine.

Segodnya also highlights the possibility of a "chain reaction leading at least to serious reforms inside the EU".

The popular Russian news site agrees, saying Brexit would "speed up EU reforms" in order to avoid a domino effect among the "many Europeans who are unhappy with Brussels' policies".

'Black Friday'

Image copyright La Razon
Image caption Spain's La Razon reports "Panic about Black Friday"

The Spanish press reflects nervousness about how close the vote could be.

La Razon's front page warns of "Panic about 'black Friday'" as "opinion polls show uncertainty" about the result with one day to go.

It reports from London that the Remain campaign needs "Labour voters and the young" to turn out if it stands a chance of winning.

El Mundo has no doubt that "Europe will breathe a sigh of relief" if Britain votes to stay on Thursday.

Further afield, Ceyda Karan in Turkey's opposition Cumhuriyet sees the referendum debate as one of the "problems triggered by the 2008 financial crisis that are leading the EU to a fork in the road", with Eurosceptics growing stronger across the continent.

She fears Turkey's role in the refugee crisis and "policies that prove every day that Islam and democracy do not mix have contributed to the rise of the extreme right in Europe".

Russian nationalist Anatoly Wasserman says Brexit is in Moscow's interests because it would leave a "strong and independent EU that can ignore US pressure". But he tells Literaturnaya Gazeta that the US and British governments are likely to "rig the referendum in favour of remaining", as he alleged happened in the Scottish independence vote - a popular theory in Russian nationalist circles.

Pro-Kremlin Izvestia also thinks Britain is likely to vote to remain, and quotes financial analysts as seeing little real danger from Brexit as Russia is "isolated from international capital markets".

The Business Daily warns that Kenya is one of the countries at "high risk of being hit by economic shocks associated with Britain's referendum".

The paper says Kenya is vulnerable to a possible loss of trade, exchange rate pressure, and capital outflows if Britain votes to leave.

Image copyright Dennik
Image caption Slovakia's Dennik says "Don't leave us"

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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