The Great Debate UK
Mon Dieu! Are the Germans starting to behave like the French?
Berlin’s efforts to salvage carmaker Opel from the wreckage of U.S. auto giant General Motors pose as big a challenge to Europe’s single market as French attempts earlier this year to tie loans to its carmakers to keeping jobs and factories in France.
The European Commission, which enforces EU competition rules, made President Nicolas Sarkozy drop any formal condition on the aid to Renault and Peugeot. But it seems ill-placed politically to stop the German juggernaut, even though the deal seems to be pegged to keeping German factories open and making any job cuts and closures elsewhere.
Facing a general election in September, Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to save Opel by providing 1.5 billion euros in bridging finance until it can be taken over by private investors backed by several billion more euros in state loan guarantees.
Here’s a novelty — an awkward process that this British government has actually got right. Labour has played a fine game of grandmother’s footsteps in its realization of the inevitability of new nuclear power stations, and this week has clinched the sale of two sites for them.