Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What to do...What to do

The politicians' prerogative; delay today that which can be put off til the morrow:

PARIS, Feb 20, 2007 (AFP) - Strains between France and Germany over a rescue plan for Airbus hardened on Tuesday when Germany deflected French suggestions that a top-level meeting on Friday could decide where cuts will fall.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Airbus restructuring would cost 10,000 jobs and the cuts would be discussed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac at a meeting on Friday.

But a German government spokesman said that details of cuts and closures were "speculation" and that the talks would not turn into "an Airbus summit".

Meanwhile strong concern was expressed on both sides of the border about the dangers of political interference in how restructuring at aircraft maker Airbus, expected to involve the loss of 10,000 jobs, should be applied.

Unemployment and job protection is a hot subject in campaigning in France ahead of a presidential election in April.

....The French newspaper Le Monde said on Tuesday that disagreements between the two countries were, if anything, worsening, under a headline: "Airbus paralysed by egoism in Paris and Berlin."

The rescue plan, arising from problems in the A380 superjumbo airliner programme, has already been in suspended animation for four months over wrangling between German and French interests over where cuts will fall.

On Monday, the company suddenly delayed an announcement due on Tuesday on how the plan would work, citing conflicting national interests, leading Airbus to say the plan was urgently needed.

Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois stressed that Airbus "cannot delay any longer" over the plan to save 5.0 billion euros (6.6 billion dollars) by 2010 and 2.0 billion euros per year thereafter.

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