The pulmonary doctors who claimed current emissions limits are so much hot air seem to have miscalculated. The lung specialists claimed that diesel fumes are not a serious health hazard but have since acknowledged the numbers they were using are off after a German newspaper pointed out their gaffe. The transport ministry welcomed the revised statement, even though it really, really liked the previous one, because it could have undermined driving bans in cities where pollution is particularly bad, releasing political pressure. Cough.
It’s one thing to write about efficiency at companies each day, and another when you are hashing that out for yourself as Handelsblatt Today nears its end. There’s the emotional swings, from shall I buy myself a tracksuit to will I ever work again, to now’s my chance to play the ukulele. Nonetheless, let’s greet the news that Deutsche Bank’s headquarters is getting leaner and meaner. The bank will trim 15 percent of its head-office staff, hoping to wind up negotiations by mid-year. These are part of the trickier plan to merge Deutsche Bank and Postbank, its retail operations, while maintaining two different brands. It’s a long-rumbling, delicate integration that is proving elusive. Success here is the prerequisite for any possible, much talked-about tie-up with Commerzbank, its domestic rival. Actually, it’s the prerequisite for any of the matches the bank has mulled for itself.
German businesses are bracing for a no-deal exit but bosses, especially in automotive and logistics, want to avoid this at any cost, given the complexity of their supply chains and the danger – and cost – of disruption. EU politicians, meanwhile, want a leave now, or with an extension of up to a year to finally prepare. The question of the European elections is open but pundits are already speculating about whether another kind of arrangement would be possible to avoid Brits having to elect MEPs just before leaving the bloc.
While Europe is talking business, we Brits wait on Westminster’s pleasure. MPs today vote on a set of Brexit proposals and as hope dies last, I’m typing with my fingers crossed that they at least rule out a no-deal Brexit. May continues, in grand party tradition, to gamble on both time and fake changes to policy. Brussels isn’t fooled. “No news is not always good news,” as the EU Council president, Donald Tusk, tweeted last night. I hear you on that.
It is the end of an era for jumbos and for Airbus, a proudly pan-European company uniting Britain, Spain, France and Germany (thanks, readers who underlined this). On Valentine’s Day, of all days, a captain wrote, the company announced that production of the A380 will roll to a halt. The iconic four-engine civilian aircraft was loved by pilots and passengers alike but sales are weak despite discounts of up to 50 percent. Airbus’ strategy failed to match the changing way we fly; the as-much-as 853-seat aircraft constrained to linking major hubs, while Boeing’s nimbler jets don’t force fliers to hop on several planes to get where they’re going.
That ends a prestigious European project once supposed to rival the euro currency, but I am resisting the temptation to see this as a harbinger of doom. Europe indeed is struggling, and even George Soros has taken time to point that out in a cri de coeur. We need to fix our political parties and mobilize to defend our values. Hear, hear.
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