Sunday, December 07, 2008

Credit crisis: European Commission's dazzling moves keep businesses on track - Times Online

Credit crisis: European Commission's dazzling moves keep businesses on track - Times Online: "In essence, the Commission has acknowledged publicly that in the present financial crisis a different code must be applied. Only last week, in fact, it adopted a recovery plan aimed at short-term measures to boost demand, save jobs and help to restore confidence, while also enabling “smart investment” to yield higher growth and sustainable prosperity in the longer term. In this context it also issued a consultative document on a “temporary framework” for state aid measures to support access to finance.

Even so it has been a delicately wrought set of approvals to enable the various bailouts to happen. Van Den Hende says that there are frequent disagreements between the Court of First Instance and the European Court of Justice on what constitutes permissible aid under EU regulations. The separate arrangements of “rescue” aid and “restructuring” aid that got the banks out of the immediate difficulties of the autumn and have helped to recapitalise them will be up for review in six months. “At that point it will be very interesting to see what the Commission decides to do,” Van Den Hende says. “I’m not sure how it will be able to judge the quality of the banks’ restructuring plans.”"

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This may lead to enormous tensions with the trade unions, especially if the new Obama regime decides to back America’s manufacturing industry. At that stage Europe could launch an attack on the US via the World Trade Organisation stage if it were felt that US subsidies to its manufacturers were putting European companies at a disadvantage. Yes, hold on to your wallets. It could get very rough.

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