The New, EU Compliant, Jobs-For-Money Plan. By GM

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

GM’s new European Viceroy, Nick Reilly, surprised and astonished the participants of a Saturday conference call by saying that German aid, or no German aid to Opel, “it won’t make any difference to our restructuring plan, so it will not lead to more layoffs in Germany or less layoffs.”

Now what’s that all about? Wasn’t the line before “you either pay us, or you pay unemployment benefits, anyway, you’ll pay?”

The most likely explanation is that GM has received, through Briton Reilly, some European religion. EU regulations strictly forbid any money-for-jobs, or money-for-keeping-plants-in-the-country deals. At least not officially. As very recent history shows, this hasn’t filtered down to all levels in Europe. Reilly at least seems to get it.

He hasn’t given up the hope for state aid, actually, he’s banking on it. “I am very optimistic that all our countries will come forward with some sort of assistance,” Reilly, said, as reported by Reuters. He even mused that a refusal by Berlin was more hypothetical than anything. However, under Reilly, the vision thing is that tax money will flow to GM in an EU regulation compliant kindof way.

“We are working closely with the EU competition commission to make sure that any application for aid is not going to have a problem,” Reilly said.

So instead of money on the table, it’s money under the table. Sounds like Reilly is connecting with reality. As unappetizing reality may be.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Dec 06, 2009

    Bertel, Thanks for the detail, always nice to have a native around to clarify.

  • Tricky Dicky Tricky Dicky on Dec 07, 2009

    There's only one thing better for the workers than being an AG, and that's being an AG with a 20% stake held by the State of Lower Saxony. I'm wondering if Reilly's being a Brit is the perfect compromise in this situation - a hybrid European/ Trans-Atlantic Axis exec? As long as he can keep the garrelous Texan quiet, he should be able to make progress.

  • Wmba Wmba on Dec 07, 2009

    Yup, I got the AG versus GmbH completely backwards in my post yesterday. Blame it on my long term memory of seeing Adam Opel AG in my mind's eye. (couldn't correct my error yesterday as no sooner had I hit the submit button, then off went our electricity, courtesy of a winter storm - for hours and hours, then it was time to dig out) Interesting that today, Bloomberg is also touting Reilly as possibly the next GM CEO. I guess the idea is too obvious, so it probably won't happen!

  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Dec 07, 2009

    Folkdancer said: "Oh, since we are not collecting property taxes from these businesses our sales taxes go up to make up the difference." But I must ask, why do we always seem to first think that it's imperative to "make up the difference?" That phrase betrays the thinking that spending is inviolate and you can't touch it no matter what else is happening in the world. If we simply can't afford prior spending levels due to the economy or for any other reason (world events, economic emergency, etcetera), then shouldn't we be thinking of tightening our (governmental) belts rather than trying to find new ways to squeeze it out of the few remaining taxpayers there are? It's not government's money. Thinking and acting like it is; well that IS socialist thinking.