France and Germany Vow to Support Auto Industry
By Brendan Moore
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier today during a joint meeting with the German Chancellor that France and Germany, the two largest economies in Europe, would not let their auto manufacturers go down. Sarkozy stated that the French government would do everything it could to support the industry during their time of greatest need. The economic recession and credit meltdown has affected the auto industry in Europe, as it has in the US.
He said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were together as one in their wish to defend their respective auto industries, through innovation, research or technology — not protectionist measures.
Merkel stated “it would be disastrous” if there were not a European response to the crisis.
Merkel and Sarkozy said they were in agreement that a coordinated effort would be best, even if actions specific to each country were different.
“We want to react with speed and with force to relaunch the economy” in a manner appropriate to each country but coordinated, Sarkozy commented at a joint Paris news conference with Merkel by his side after their talks.
“What is sure is that we won’t let the auto industry down,” Sarkozy declared.
Sarkozy noted that the auto industry, including the employees at dealerships and parts suppliers, employs 10% of France’s working population.
“The will to help European industry, and notably the automobile sector, is total,” said the French president.
France and Germany’s show of solidarity is in somewhat marked contrast to the minor friction reported previously between Paris and Berlin. Germany has been reluctant to embrace the level of funding France wants for a economic stimulus program, and Sarkozy made a wry offhand comment about that reluctance last week, saying that “while France is working, Germany is thinking”.
But today Sarkozy was all smiles and solicititous towards Merkel, stating that France had a more centralized government that made this sort of decision-making easy, while federal Germany needed much more time for consultations.
‘There is more convergence than divergence, much more,’ he said, commenting on Franco-German coordination, in response to a reporter’s question.
Both Merkel and Sarkozy said that they were not interested in a plan similar to one leaked in the British press that would cut taxes on many items in the UK, including new-car purchases for a prescribed time period.
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