The Great Debate UK

from Commentaries:

Re-elected Barroso faces market challenge

By Paul Taylor
September 16, 2009

bozoJose Manuel Barroso promised the European Parliament that as re-elected president of the European Commission he will have more authority to fight for Europe and defend its single market against economic nationalism.

from Commentaries:

French PM eyes Barroso’s job?

By Paul Taylor
September 7, 2009

fillonIs France trying to stymie Jose Manuel Barroso's re-election for a second term as European Commission president?

from Commentaries:

Barroso’s EU vision lacks levers for change

By Paul Taylor
September 7, 2009

Could the European Union be among the big losers of the global financial crisis?

Despite signs that recession in Europe may be bottoming out, the 27-nation bloc risks emerging from the turmoil with its economic growth potential stunted, its public finances shackled by mountains of debt, and its international influence weakened.

from Commentaries:

Lufthansa milks EU drama for cost cuts

By Paul Taylor
July 20, 2009

Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> is milking an antitrust standoff with the European competition regulators to extract maximum cost cuts from Austrian Airlines <AUAV.VI> as it seeks to cement its dominance of central Europe's skies.
The German flag carrier has held back key concessions to the European Commission needed to secure approval for the takeover of the ailing airline while it squeezes further concessions from Austrian's workforce and its biggest shareholder, the Austrian government. It won another 150 million euros in savings from job cuts agreed in a third round of AUA cost-cutting this week.
The EU regulator, which supports airline consolidation in principle, is right to insist that the creation of a central European mega-carrier should not be at the expense of consumer choice on key routes such as Vienna-Frankfurt.
Lufthansa, which has set its own deadline of July 31 to clinch the deal, has the Austrians in a tight spot because the cost to the Austrian taxpayer would be far higher if it walked away. The Austrian government holding company, OIAG, says this could cost about 1,400 jobs and imply total costs of 840 million euros. The state has promised to assume 500 million euros of AUA's 1 billion euros of debt as part of a Lufthansa deal.
The German giant needs to reduce the cost of acquisitions it launched last year before the financial crisis hit air travel.
It has already beaten down Sir Michael Bishop to lower the cost of his majority stake in British carrier BMI [BMI.UL] and has snapped up Brussels Airlines, the successor to bankrupt Belgian flag carrier Sabena.
In the latter case, Lufthansa made concessions to the Commission on routes and take-off and landing slots to avoid restricting competition. But it has balked so far at the most important remedies for the Austrian deal, which concern what would be a monopoly on nine daily flights between Vienna and Geneva, operated jointly with another subsidiary, Swiss, and above all on feeder flights to its Frankfurt Airport hub to connect with its more lucrative transatlantic routes.
If the Commission does not stand firm on these issues, it risks being overturned by the EU's Court of First Instance, to which rivals Air France-KLM <AIRF.PA> and former Formula 1 racing ace Niki Lauda's latest venture, Fly Niki, would undoubtedly appeal.
Of course, Lufthansa could let the Austrian deal founder on EU competition concerns in hopes of picking up the pieces of a shrunken or bankrupt AUA later. But it might face competition were the airline's assets to be sold out of bankruptcy. Both Air France and a consortium of Air Berlin and Fly Niki were interested last time.
So the betting must be that, as with the Belgian deal, it will yield to Brussels' demands to clinch the deal in the end.

from Commentaries:

Politics, economics collide over Opel

By Paul Taylor
July 20, 2009

Political and economic logic are set to collide in the byzantine decision-making over the future of German carmaker Opel, the main European arm of fallen U.S. auto giant General Motors.
If politics prevail, as seems likely, the cost to German taxpayers will be higher and the chances of commercial success lower.

Europe votes conservative in crisis

By Paul Taylor
June 8, 2009

paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

German Opel rescue tests EU road rules

By Paul Taylor
May 29, 2009

paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Investment trusts wrong target for EU

May 26, 2009

REUTERSWell-intentioned legislation often has the opposite effect. The European Commission’s new alternative investment directive threatens investment trust companies, an attractive form of pooled investment.

Fortis rebels flog a dead cheval

May 12, 2009

REUTERS– Margaret Doyle is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

from The Great Debate:

Don’t bank on EU’s tough state aid talk

By Paul Taylor
April 20, 2009

paul-taylor-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) - The European Union's antitrust czar is struggling to stop governments bending EU rules on state aid to business when they rescue banks with taxpayers' money.