Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ground Airbus (2)

Winston Churchill famously remarked that the Americans could be relied upon to Do The Right Thing, but only after having tried all the alternatives. Well, they're still at the alternative-trying stage with Airbus.

The WSJ opines (subscription required) on the stalled US/EU talks on Airbus subsidies, that the EU negotiator uses - shock! - spin.


First, as we reported in these columns two weeks ago, his office has acknowledged that Mr. Mandelson doesn't truly have a mandate from his member states -- in particular, France and Germany -- to agree an end to the soft loans from which Airbus benefits, even though that was the stated intent when the negotiations began in January. That admission rightly led Washington's chief representative, Robert Zoellick, to characterize Mr. Mandelson's approach to the talks as "spin."

Any 10-year-old Brit could have told the US negotiator that Mandelson is a disgraced spinner. The WSJ concludes:

There's scant doubt that the WTO would declare the handouts to Airbus illegal, but the U.S. clearly is worried that its aid to Boeing would be struck down, too. Of course, with no other competitors in a vital market for the foreseeable future, it seems unlikely that either company needs public funding to survive. Taxpayers on both sides of the Atlantic deserve a chance to find out what it is they're bankrolling.

Mr President, just Do The Right Thing. It saves time and money!