“The delivery delays of the A380 Super Jumbo jet, are not a mega problem. We can, and will, overcome the challenges we’re currently facing”. That’s what Prime minister Dominique de Villepin told Airbus employees, at the assembly line of the A320 aircraft in Toulouse.
Airbus is back on the tracks, and I believe everyone has to be sure that Airbus will play its role, the company has a lot of ambition, and we are looking forward.
The A380 is behind schedule, at a time France’s economy is behind its European partners.
No, no, no. All companies run into difficulties at one point or another. What’s important is the company’s reactivity, the reactivity of the companies working for Airbus, and the reactivity of the countries that are supporting Airbus, so we’re here, and we are looking forward.
On his fifty third birthday, Villepin received a model of an Airbus plane from workers, and a trophy from one of the company’s suppliers. But Villepin also had his own gifts to hand out. He pledged a hundred and forty five million Euros, for the aeronautics sector. 80 million in reimbursable advances over the next two years, the rest would be allocated to boost Research and Development. The announcement has led to mixed reactions, among these young Airbus technicians.
I am not worried, we’re good at conception, manufacturing and we’re good in sales, we’ve been successful so far and there is no reason this should grind to a halt. I work for Airbus via a temping agency, my contract ends in February, I don’t know if they will renew it, if there is work, and we get more firm orders, yes, but you’re never sure.
Power 8 is a programme designed to make the entire Airbus chain competitive, and that chain includes Airbus, and its suppliers. We will ask the Airbus board to give its go-ahead to the A350, only if we have guarantees that our Power 8 programme will be enforced, because Power 8 is partly why Airbus will remain competitive in the future. So there is a direct link between this programme and the launch of our new jetliner.
80 per cent of our turnover is in US Dollars, thirty per cent of our expenses are in Dollars, so our activity depends a lot on the Euro/Dollar exchange rate. What’s costing us a lot of money, is that we pay our employees in Euros, but our clients pay us in Dollars.
Villepin took note of the remark, in fact he did more. He called on the EU, to adopt a monetary policy.
Europe needs a shield for its Euro. The difficulties of Airbus are partly the result of a Euro that is too strong against the dollar, which hurts our industry in the face of US competition. All the major powers have an exchange rate policy, sometimes even an aggressive policy. The European Union must provide itself with a real exchange rate strategy that combines the goals of growth, the protection of our industry, and the protection of jobs.
It’s unsure how directors of the European central bank will take this, they are often reluctant to modify rates. Villepin’s reimbursable advances are not likely to be well-received by Boeing managers in the United States either. But for the French Prime Minister, protecting Airbus, the pride of France and a flagship of the country’s industrial know-how, is worse a fight, even if it means taking on Frankfort, Washington and Brussels.Listen to the report:
There's a general election in the Netherlands next week and although there's little chance of it making waves across Europe - it's suddenly livened up Dutch public life. Dreary campaign manifestos have given way to good old-fashioned personality politics and slanging matches. If you don't know who's in the current Dutch government or why you should care, don't worry. Radio Netherlands' Andy Clark tells Network Europe who the major players in Dutch politics are and how they've been insulting each other.
Germany's far-right National Democratic Party held a convention last weekend that sparked debate about whether or not to try to ban them. An effort was made to do just that 3 years ago but the whole plan was scuppered when it came to light that some of the intelligence agents who'd infiltrated the party undercover had got a little too into character and were shown to be involved in provoking some of the behaviour being complained about. Some politicians in Germany want to muzzle the party, but are asking if a ban is either useful or realistic?
Far right political parties are making their presence felt in many parts of Europe - even in the "liberal" heartland of Scandinavia. Recent elections in Sweden have given the country's far right party, the Sweden Democrats, some unwelcome power, especially if you're an asylum seeker. Radio Sweden's Mark Cummins told Network Europe it’s tricky to nail down exactly what the Sweden Democrats stand for.
In the Second World War the Polish capital, Warsaw was all but flattened and rebuilding the Old Town was the largest renovation project in the history of Europe. Now the town of Lodz has just started the next biggest project of this kind. Lodz is Poland's second largest city but isn't usually on tourists' to-do lists. But it might be now. The town's Manufaktura complex has had a huge makeover.
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