Marchionne Calls For EU Intervention, End Of Free Trade

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

It looks like Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne does not want to be head of the European automakers association ACEA much longer. Today, he called for a massive EU rescue package for the ailing European car industry, with coordinated capacity cuts as the centerpiece. He also called for a stop of free trade agreements. “Let the European car industry make its adjustments… This is not the time to embrace free trade,” Marchionne said while Reuters was taking notes.

Earlier this year, Marchionne had called for a massive government intervention that would require all automakers to shed capacity, most likely with financial support from Brussels. At the time, an anonymous European auto exec predicted serious pushback from the German side, which is doing just fine, danke. The German side did not waste time. To the delight of the EU, which has other problems, the German members of the ACEA did not support Marchionne’s plan, and it went nowhere. They also started working on Marchionne’s ouster. Soon thereafter, Volkswagen demanded that Marchionne step down as the head of the lobbying group, after Marchionne accused Volkswagen of dumping.

Last month, Marchionne said that ACEA’s board agreed all members would reach their own decisions. He also hugged Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn in front of cameras. “They hugged, but they did not kiss,” quipped Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

All of this seems to be forgotten, and Marchionne calls for the strong arm of Brussels again. Marchionne also said the EU should delay signing free trade agreements. When he said this before, it earned him a serious rebuke from EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. Export-heavy German carmakers and export-heavy EU states are for FTAs. It seems like Marchionne is under a lot of stress, and the way he is going, he might be under more stress soon.

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  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Oct 11, 2012

    "A TTAC “Bailout” definition primer:" Larry, excellent primer. All that it is missing is to replace the word "Brussels" with "Washington".

  • NMGOM NMGOM on Oct 11, 2012

    I must say, I had been a fan of the flamboyant, folksy, sweater-wearing, conversational Sergio. And A fan of his good leadership at Chrysler, including the image building SRT Viper and new Ram 1500. But this has gone too far. For the EU to curtail FTA's would fly in the face of its own desire for economic progress AND influence around the world. And it certainly represents a betrayal of Sergio's public agreement with Mr. Winterkorn. And it would again burden the people in "rich states" that have efficiently running companies, requiring them to spend their taxes saving people in poor states with car companies that can't do well. If that isn't ever Communism, what is?....except here among states not people. The Germans are already going to carry the bulk of the financial burden trying to save Greece. You certainly don't hear about great Italian car companies like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Pagani crying for help, do you? Maybe Fiat should take a lesson from them and start making upscale, decent cars. "stroker49" was right. If the destiny of VW is to rule Europe in the automotive realm, then so be it. (I can hear BMW and Mercedes screaming already.) If Fiat cannot survive on its own merits, then it needs to go under: so be it. Carrying dead wood does little other than hurt your back and make suitable kindling. And, no, I was not in favor of the GM-and-Chrysler "bailout" (as formulated: the structured bankruptcy should have reverted the component divisions back into their individual original companies, --- then we could have some really good competition here.) ------------

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