Brexit: Europe’s press welcomes deal but doubts it will succeed

Brexit: Europe’s press welcomes deal but doubts it will succeed

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There’s limited optimism over the latest Brexit deal

European newspapers broadly welcome the Brexit deal Boris Johnson agreed in Brussels on Thursday and there is particular praise in Ireland that it steered clear of a hard border.

But amid the relief at a breakthrough, there is also recognition that the deal might not get through Parliament.

There is also some surprise that the UK has accepted what several newspaper commentators consider worse terms than before.

‘After all the sound and fury’

“The extraordinary aspect of the current breakthrough is that it amounts to virtually the same thing as Theresa May’s original Northern Ireland backstop,” says Irish Times writer Stephen Collins. “It is beyond irony that Johnson who was one of the prime movers behind the plot to destroy her has now reverted to her original deal.”

Still, it “demonstrated once again that the most essential virtue for any serious politician is the ability to grasp the best available compromise”, he adds. 

“The deal is not everything we wanted but it’s a close second,” says the Irish Independent’s Kevin Doyle.

He points out it was not only Boris Johnson’s moment in the sun but also one for the taoiseach (Irish prime minister).

“Leo Varadkar was being paraded around Brussels last night like the boy who got straight As in his exams. After staring into the abyss, we have crawled back to a situation where our key objective has been achieved: there will be no hard Border.”

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Mr Johnson must “achieve ‘the impossible’ one more time”

‘Triumph of common sense’

“Pragmatism and mutual trust have prevailed,” says a commentary in Germany’s Tageszeitung. “Johnson’s opponents in the House of Commons… must now think twice about what they’re doing.”

Spiegel Online agrees there has been an “eventual triumph of common sense”.

“So no British economic tiger will roar off the shores of the continent. For many in the EU, that is a relief,” it adds.

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“The mood was extremely happy and relaxed” Bild says of the atmosphere in Brussels

But is Mr Johnson “happy too soon?” wonders the Bild tabloid. The House of Commons vote on Saturday will be a real “test of fire”, it says.

In France, Le Monde’s Brussels correspondent Cécile Ducourtieux also wonders if the “Brussels miracle” can be repeated.

It’s the “last chance for a friendly Brexit”, says France’s Le Figaro, noting that Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose numbers are crucial for a government majority, are “standing by their rejection” of the agreement.

“The tail is wagging the dog,” says Hungarian newspaper Napi.

“If we look only at numbers ahead of the vote in Westminster tomorrow, this looks like a political suicide rather than gambling,” says Italy’s Il Giornale.

And it’s not just Northern Ireland that may prove a headache to Mr Johnson.

“Scotland voted to remain in the EU, and the autonomous government in Edinburgh intends to maintain close ties with Europe,” says Italy’s business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Johnson ‘surrendered to Brussels’

Several commentators think the UK has accepted a worse deal than it had before.

“Johnson, despite all his tough talk, surrendered to Brussels in almost everything,” says Slovakia’s Dennik N. “The changes concerning the Irish backstop are only cosmetic.”

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The new agreement “has not resolved old disputes”

“The UK prime minister received a bad deal in a nicer package. And maybe a friendly pinch on the cheek. Juncker’s speciality,” says one analysis in Greece’s Protagon website.

“The Irish representatives’ statements clearly show that Johnson suffered another defeat with the new agreement. Elegantly packaged of course, but still defeat,” agrees Croatia’s Novi List.

Despite all that, there is optimism Mr Johnson will continue to champion it.

“The essential thing is certainly not that MPs vote for the deal,” says France’s Libération. “The important thing is that he should be able to present himself before Parliament, and above all, his future electorate, with something concrete in his hands.”

“The leader of the Conservative Party will launch into a general election by presenting himself as the person who saved Brexit – an election for which he will hold all the cards,” adds Belgium’s La Libre.

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.