The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Fiat’s over-ambitious expansion strategy

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

Could Italy's cash-strapped Fiat, Europe's sixth auto maker, build a workable alliance with Chrysler and Opel to become be a profitable global player? Or would it be a marriage of losers, doomed to fail?

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has made clear that his interest in Opel, the European arm of ailing General Motors, is more than just a well-timed tactic to get better terms in the alliance he is negotiating with troubled U.S. number three Chrysler. Chrysler faces likely bankruptcy if a deal is not clinched by April 30.

The troubleshooter who turned around the Italian group seems to want both deals. "It is quite possible for Fiat to engage in both of those transactions and to execute them properly," he said on Thursday. Marchionne sees a wave of consolidation coming in the automobile sector and is determined to gain critical mass to survive. But his strategy looks over-ambitious.

Fiat has little cash and 4.8 billion euros in debt to repay this year, so Marchionne needs deals that cost little or nothing. That means he has to target companies in a weaker position than his.

from The Great Debate:

Buck-passing augurs ill for G20 summit

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

The foreplay to next month's G20 summit is degenerating into a buck-passing exercise rather than crafting a Grand Bargain to save the world economy and regulate capitalism.

The industrialized powers do not agree on how to arrest the steep slide in output, how to handle collapsing banks, how much market regulation is needed, how to reach a world trade deal and prevent protectionism, or how to redistribute power to emerging nations in exchange for their money.

from The Great Debate:

Too many hopes pinned on EU bank

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

It works more like a sprinkler than a power hose, but the European Investment Bank has a role to play in preventing a financial inferno from sweeping across central and eastern Europe.

The trouble is that politicians have overloaded the European Union's long-term lending arm with exaggerated expectations, calling on it like a fire brigade in every emergency, from saving credit-starved small firms to greening the car industry, combating the energy crisis and fighting climate change.

from The Great Debate:

Arms control to start U.S.-Russia thaw

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Paul Taylor Great Debate -- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Arms control is back and will thaw icy relations between the United States and Russia this year, but how far the new detente goes depends on the truculent mood in Moscow.

The potential exists for a grand bargain encompassing cooperation on the global financial crisis, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear disarmament, missile defense, conventional armed forces and NATO enlargement.

from The Great Debate:

Scoop! U.S. offers to cooperate with world

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

An American president vowing to cooperate with the rest of the world would barely be news if it did not follow eight years' of George W. Bush's tenure in the White House.

Barack Obama's inauguration address was thin on foreign policy specifics, but his pledge to work with allies and adversaries on global problems from nuclear weapons to climate change was a message many have waited impatiently to hear.

from The Great Debate:

Obama must redefine success in Afghanistan

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Barack Obama says he will make Afghanistan the central front in his fight against terrorism but the incoming U.S. president will have to scale back the war aims he inherits from George W. Bush and redefine success.

Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to oust a Taliban government that was harboring al Qaeda militants blamed for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

from The Great Debate:

Ukraine gas crisis spurs EU energy policy

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine that has left hundreds of thousands of Europeans shivering in the winter cold is bound to accelerate plodding European Union efforts to build a common energy policy.

The cut-off of Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine highlighted how little progress the 27-nation EU has made in connecting national energy networks and diversifying supplies since the first such crisis three years ago.

from The Great Debate:

EU enters lame duck year amid challenges

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

The European Union is entering a lame duck year just as new challenges are mounting from Israel's assault on Gaza, Russia's gas cut-off to Ukraine and the impending inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The EU's active crisis management in the Georgia war and the global financial meltdown last year under the energetic leadership of French President Nicolas Sarkozy was an exception, not the dawn of a new, more effective Union.

from The Great Debate:

Obama spurs EU on climate, economy

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

He wasn't present and he isn't even in office yet, but Barack Obama was the elephant in the room at last week's European Union summit on economic recovery and climate change.

The 27 EU leaders knew they needed strong agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and give their recession-hit economies a big fiscal stimulus to make themselves credible partners for the U.S. president-elect.

from The Great Debate:

Will EU live up to its green ambition?

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Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

European Union leaders this week face a crucial credibility test of their ambition to lead the world in fighting climate change, just as President-elect Barack Obama is making it a top priority for the United States.

Will the EU give real teeth to its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, draw 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources and cut energy consumption by 20 percent over the same period, or will it fall short?

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