"A summit that could just as well not have been held”: Dziennik Gazeta Prawna’s verdict on last weekend’s G20 is final. "In Toronto, the G20 leaders didn’t solve a single economic problem,” adds the Polish daily. “The world’s most influential politicians were unable to agree on anything tangible,” particularly “on the principle of a global bank levy or on the instruments to bolster bank capital”.

"Four summits later [since the 2008 G20 in Washington DC], after thousands of business failures, millions of lost jobs and billions spent on bailouts, we’re still in the same spot,” echoes El Mundo. Its opposite number El País finds "the outcome of the summit not encouraging” because “there was no agreement on the urgent need to coordinate the 20 participating countries’ economic policies”.

Industrialised countries don't listen to emerging ones

Likewise, Libération pronounced “the ‘Gs’ at a standstill”: "The Huntsville G8 and Toronto G20 displayed more differences of opinion than progress in getting out of the crisis. The idea of a bank levy or international financial tax has been shelved indefinitely, and everyone pledged to cut deficits, to be sure, but on their own terms.”

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which advocates liberalising international trade as the crisis remedy, says the G8 and last weekend’s G20 once again proved how ineffectual summits are: "The fact that certain industrialised countries are incapable of listening to emerging countries’ wishes and opinions jeopardises the future of the G20," writes the FAZ, particularly in view of the EU’s attempt to tax financial transactions in the face of opposition from emerging countries that were spared by the crisis.

G20 – every man for himself

"Their pique should induce Europeans to wonder whether such taxes make any sense and give up on them,” the German daily opines. "If the point of the G20 is to sign off on European ideas, we might as well give it up. And if the G20 is to become a serious international economic forum, it would be a pipedream to imagine that European notions are the measure of all things,” winds up the FAZ editorial.

"The G20 has ushered in the return of ‘every man for himself’,” bemoans Le Figaro. "The attempt to define a consensus-based economic policy to get out of the crisis proved abortive. Between Germany obsessed with cutting deficits [...], the US fretful about hamstringing growth by excessive austerity and France halfway between the two, a common guideline is nowhere in sight. The G20, which was created at the peak of financial turmoil, has proved its utility in times of crisis. But the meeting in Toronto also bared its limitations. Global economic governance of one sort or another, which is already so hard to hammer out at European level, is not about to be put in place overnight.”

Germany exports austerity doctrine worldwide

In fact, explains the Tageszeitung, "The disagreements within the G8 and G20 now force [the conferees] to refocus on matters that can really be changed: for Europeans today, that means Europe." So, concludes the TAZ, "The best news from this summit is that Merkel and Sarkozy seemed determined to tax financial transactions in Europe – or in the eurozone if London holds out.”

In spite of all, notes EUobserver, "the statement on halving public deficits by 2013 was hailed as a victory for European politicians". "By setting that target, the G20 came to a close under the banner of German-brand rigour,” remarks La Repubblica. "The match played out” in Canada “was not Germany vs US”, even if “Angela Merkel might give the impression she won the day”, explains the Italian daily: "After having foisted its doctrine on Europe, Germany is now exporting it worldwide. Barack Obama, the last of the Keynesian leaders, seems to be beating a retreat: he did not convince Berlin of the benefits of states’ spending their way to growth. But appearances are deceiving, and Merkel’s triumph will soon prove a Pyrrhic victory. It serves to assuage the anxiety of the German public,” which favours fiscal rigour, and “accelerate the marginalisation of Europe” by shifting even faster “the geometries of power towards the new dynamics between America, China, India, Brazil and Russia".