Ford’s European boss John Fleming is right to be worried about the growing trend of Euro government’s to bail out their ‘home teams’.
Because, despite its size as a car maker, Ford’s diverse European operations mean that it’s without a single place to call home.
Presuming free market economics hold sway, it shouldn’t matter at all that the Focus gets built in Germany, the Mondeo in Belgium and the Fiesta in Spain and Germany – with many of the diesel engines coming from Britain.
Ford’s problem is that, as the European car market contracts, rational economic criteria is being replaced by thinly-disguised national self interest, as politicians and unions campaign for bail-outs for ‘native’ car manufacturers.
The logic seems to be simple enough: yes, we’re producing too many cars, but that doesn’t mean our factories should be the ones to be shut down.
Of course, there’s the chance that the EU might step in and have a look at some of these loans and guarantees, many of which seem to be sailing as close as possible to competition legislation intended to stop nationalistic bail-outs.