* Merkel fails to push through voting right suspension
* Brussels deal seen as "lite" solution to problem
By Dave Graham
BERLIN, Oct 29 German media offered guarded
praise for an agreement in Brussels to make limited changes to
the EU treaty, describing it as a compromise that bought time to
find a lasting remedy to debt woes that have plagued the bloc.
Under pressure from Chancellor Angela Merkel and French
President Nicolas Sarkozy, EU leaders in Brussels agreed that
changes were needed to create a permanent system to handle
sovereign debt problems and endorsed tougher budgetary rules,
including sanctions on profligate states. [ID:nLDE69I1FB]
Facing public hostility to a bailout of Greece and the
creation of massive rescue fund designed to protect the euro
currency, Merkel had insisted on the option of suspending voting
rights for budget sinners and alterations to the treaty.
Business daily Handelsblatt said the consensus reached on
treaty changes was a significant achievement, calling it a
"breakthrough" for Merkel, whose centre-right coalition has
suffered a record drop in support in its first year in office.
But Berlin failed to win widespread support for demands to
suspend the voting rights of member states which breach the
rules. This would have required more radical treaty change,
backed by public referendums, and was put on the backburner.
This meant this plan was "pretty much off the table for the
time being," wrote daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
As a result, the deal reached in Brussels amounted to "lite
solution" to the problem of ensuring budgetary discipline, said
German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.
In a comment for German public radio, Birgit Schmeitzner
said the fact that Merkel had reached one of her two objectives
meant there was still something to play for.
"This is a stage victory that Angela Merkel can celebrate,"
she said. "It helps that Merkel saved face. And that she didn't
have to take up her threat of allowing the summit to fail."
Gunther Krichbaum, a member of Merkel's conservative
Christian Democrats, who chairs the European Union affairs
committee in the lower house of parliament, said the agreement
reached amounted to real progress on warding off future crises.
"It is a great step forward because we now have a crisis
mechanism so that in the future we will not have to deal with
problems like the Greek crisis on an ad hoc basis," he said.
The leaders asked Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the EU
Council grouping national governments, to prepare changes to the
Lisbon treaty in time for agreement at a summit in December and
said he should work on them with the European Commission.
(Additional reporting by Brian Rohan; Editing by Elizabeth