Friday, 28 July 2017

The German autostate

Whether or not it was illegal, revelations about German automakers cheating the system are denting ‘brand Deutschland’. Do Germans play by a different set of rules?

The allegations that have surfaced this month against German automakers seem to confirm the worst suspicions that many in Europe hold about the EU’s largest country: while they insist on rigid enforcement of rules for everyone else, Germans seem to think the rules don’t apply to them.

A report by Der Spiegel magazine last week alleged that Germany’s five biggest automakers - Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Audi - have been colluding for two decades on pricing, suppliers and diesel technical standards, in order to give them leverage over foreign competitors. This week the European Union said it is investigating the issue, and has appointed a vice president to oversee the investigation.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Thursday, 20 July 2017

“Why are you still here?”

As they exit international bodies, the US and UK are refusing to give up their seats at the tables they plan to leave. The question is whether their international partners will let them get away with it.

This week, the difficult negotiations over the UK’s exit from the European Union began in earnest in Brussels. David Davis, the UK’s chief negotiator, squared off against Michel Barnier, his EU counterpart.

Davis called for both sides to “get down to business” for arranging a swift British exit from the EU. He then promptly went back to London, 60 minutes later. He gave no explanation for his own swift departure, which left the EU negotiators perplexed. Just days earlier, Barnier had warned the UK that it is is running out of time to negotiate its exit, which must be completed by March 2019. “The clock is ticking” he said sternly.

Monday, 10 July 2017