Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Europe’s nominee to be climate chief surprised car manufacturers last week by saying she thought EU policymakers might have been too soft on them when carbon-capping rules were set in 2008.
Connie Hedegaard’s forceful intervention during hearings for the European Commission raised the possibility of a renewed push by Europe to legislate car emissions if the Dane is approved by the European Parliament for the post next month.
The exisiting rules were hard-fought-over in 2008, with big European auto nations such as France, Italy and Germany arguing that a slow transition to tougher targets was necessary to protect jobs in a sector that is not only one of the EU’s biggest employers but already feeling the heat from the economic crisis.
If new emissions caps were brought in, Big Auto and its army of lobbyists would swing back into action, pitting themselves against environmentalists and industries with an interest in tighter curbs, such as car parts suppliers and aluminium producers, who promise to cut the weight of future cars.
It was among the 81-billion euro basket of stimulus measures the government put together to soften the impact of the recession and was later copied in many other countries, including the United States.It started out as a 1.5-billion euro scheme but that had to be quickly topped up in the spring as a frenzy swept the country.
Few politicians so far are calling for protectionism.
Among economic and diplomatic policy-makers, openly advocating protectionism is about as socially acceptable as promoting child pornography.
So how to explain the slew of tariff hikes, export subsidies, non-tariff barriers, stimulus packages and bailouts — highlighted in a report at the World Trade Organisation – which all have the effect of slowing imports, boosting exports and generally promoting jobs at home at the expense of competitors?