Elites must listen to the people, says former French FM Védrine

Former French Foreign Affairs Minister Hubert Védrine, famous for having called and described the late 1990s United States a “hyperpower”, has given a relevant interview to French daily newspaper Les Echos.

A world-class reference in international affairs with a French standpoint, Védrine underlines the need for the elites to listen to the people especially the demand for both more ecology and less immigration.

About China as the next superpower, Védrine considers that much remains to do for China to develop a soft power as big as that of the United States, besides he adds, China may even not seek to become such a superpower on a cultural level.

In the context of a global geopolitical shift from the West to Asia, Hubert Védrine thinks Europe has to become a strategic power if it wants to weigh in 21st century’s international affairs or if will have to depend on the United States, now a more “erratic power” he said.

Will BMW and China bury Tesla and Elon Musk?

The German car group BMW has been producing and selling cars in China since 1994. Since then, China has become the second largest economy in the world just years away from dethroning the United States while in purchasing power parity (PPP) the Chinese gross GDP exceeds its US counterpart since 2014 according to IMF data.

According to Chinese state media, BMW is now considering selling Chinese production overseas, which was previously reserved for the Chinese domestic market. As part of a redefinition of the general rules of the Chinese government’s industrial and automotive policy, the BMW X3 electric vehicle would not only be produced in China but also exported to third markets, explained Thomas Becker, vice president of governmental affairs with BMW Group, to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Customer demand for our X vehicles continues to be very highJuly sales of BMW X3 increased 52.3% – and now we’ve increased production capacity by localizing the BMW X3 in China and South Africa,” said Pieter Nota, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Brand BMW. If such evolution remains to be confirmed, BMW believes that the Chinese government is supporting it, this way addressing logically a message to its American competitor Tesla (TSLA).

The latter, whose stock price fell from USD 379 to USD 300 over August 7-20, 2018, seems in great difficulty following the complicated statements of its CEO Elon Musk. Burning a lot of cash and lacking capital to ensure production capacity in line with its objectives, Tesla could well see these very compromised if BMW produces in China electric vehicles for export worldwide. In addition to a presumably easier access to the resources needed to produce the batteries, BMW has an experience, a reputation and a production capacity incomparable to that of Tesla.

“If BMW and China get along, other automakers will take the same path and when it happens, the future of Tesla will darken more,” said an analyst of the automotive sector. As evidence, in the first five months of the year 2018, sales of BMW i, BMW iPerformance and MINI Electric vehicles jumped 41.0% to total 46,849.

Brussels is optimistic but Greece still has reason to doubt

After eight years of an economic and social crisis that seemed endless, the European Union (EU) authorities in Brussels have largely welcomed the exit of Greece from its third and last aid plan.

“The far-reaching reforms that Greece has achieved have laid the foundation for a sustainable recovery: it must be nurtured and maintained to enable the Greek people to reap the benefits of their efforts and sacrifices. Europe will continue to stand with Greece,” said EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici.

With forecasts of economic growth at 2% for 2018 and 2019, Greece enjoys a higher growth rate than major European economies such as France. Inside the country, Cyceon correspondents posted a much more moderate optimism, recalling that unemployment remains very high at 21.5% and that precariousness always strongly undermines the quality of life of all age groups, especially among young people and retirees.

Also, the massive sale of large parts of the public service to the private sector since 2011, the continued weight of the public debt at 191.1% against the GDP and the announcement of new austerity measures by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are as many elements which greatly reduce the satisfaction expressed in Brussels.

According to Cyceon, the Greek political scene is not as stable as it seems, especially with the difficulties related to the migration crisis that could quickly resurface after the decision of Germany to return migrants to Greece.