26 June 2006

Airbus: the flying Common Agricultural Policy

"I have the choice between being considered someone dishonest or someone incompetent who doesn't know what is going on in his factories,” said Arnaud Lagardère [co-chair of EADS, the Airbus builders]. “I prefer the second version.”
What is it about the French elite and their corrupt hauteur that so intimidates the rest of us? As with the land-based Common Agricultural Policy, so with Airbus they are doing their best to ensure that efficiency and common sense are subordinated to backwards-looking visions of French glory.
Compared with Mr Lagardère, who has no operational role at EADS, the man who actually runs the group was not at all contrite. Noël Forgeard [the other co-chair] claimed in numerous interviews that Airbus, the subsidiary of EADS making the A380, was not late in admitting its production problems. (In fact, it took Airbus two months to make them public.) The relationship between Airbus and EADS is completely transparent. (In fact, Airbus is run as a semi-autonomous fief.) The war between German and French shareholders and managers is over. (In fact, they are at each other's throats.) And he categorically denied using inside information when he pocketed €2.5m for himself and his family after exercising share options in March. He was, he said, “shocked by presumptions of his guilt”. Source
The sadness is that a European Union without the French elite and its hang-ups could actually work very well. For a start, the Common Agricultural Policy could be dismantled, allowing the food-rich developing countries to export to Europe, greatly enhancing the survival prospects of, especially, Africans. Then the EU members could conduct all their business in one official language - English - instead of the 20 or so currently used. Rather than being an unpopular and failing way of projecting French power and its centralised, remote system of government onto Europe populations, it could then become more responsive to the genuine concerns of its people.

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