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Daily Briefing

Germany budges a bit on French budget proposal

By: Allison Williams

A euro-zone attempt; blind justice? and goodbye to a German genius. Here's our Daily Briefing for February 20, 2019.


Germany and France have finally reached a compromise on the EU budget. At issue was whether or not the 19 EU members that also use the euro get an additional piece of the pie. The answer now: Yes. But they’ll also have to pay in a little extra, based on an intergovernmental deal.

The budget would fund reform measures as well as investments, though we don’t yet know how much would be available for each. The proposal calls on members to make their own significant contributions to investment projects, though this co-financing could be suspended for countries facing economic difficulties.

Handelsblatt Today's Allison is Deputy Editor-in-Chief. Marko Priske für Handelsblatt

Allison Williams

Handelsblatt Today's Allison is Deputy Editor-in-Chief.

The compromise was reached by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and his German counterpart, Olaf Scholz, in Berlin this week. Now it’s up to the remaining members of the currency zone to agree too. While their suggestion aims to make the EU stronger, expect naysayers from the Nordic and Baltic countries to object to yet another pot and demand payouts be used for economic reforms. Expect lengthy wrangles when finance ministers meet in June. This is a long haul.

Blame game: Volkswagen's unequal justice: a Dieselgate employee and a manager

Blame game

Volkswagen's unequal justice: a Dieselgate employee and a manager

The carmaker fired a software engineer and is threatening to sue, while it's lavishing generous terms on her manager who gets a free pass on legal consequences.

Speaking of long, bumpy roads. A VW owner lost an initial case after seeking damages for being sold a diesel car that pollutes more than VW claimed it did. The driver plans to appeal, meaning Germany’s highest court will weigh in on what could be a landmark case. VW, meanwhile, is busy pushing the blame for the systematic emissions cheating ever further down the food chain, rewarding and protecting managers while punishing those lower in the organization. In the US, too, engineers are sitting in jail while senior managers walk scot free. The carmaker is now looking into demanding damages from employees. Courts are protecting the wrong people in this buddyocracy and politicians are busy looking hard the other way.

Today, we are celebrating Kaiser Karl after Germany’s greatest fashion icon died in Paris yesterday. The workaholic son of a businessman from Hamburg, Lagerfeld inspired haute couture for half a century. Wearers loved his elegant clothing and playful innovations. He drew criticism for his harsher comments but for now, the world is celebrating his exuberant shows, his aphorisms, and his democratization of high fashion. Presidents and designers now pay tribute to the German who made Parisian fashion famous. Lagerfeld himself called Fendi his Italian side and Chanel his French side. If only pulling Europe together was so easy.

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