Car manufacturers BMW, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen; the country's fourth-largest financial institution, Commerzbank; Europe's largest chip-producer, Infineon -- five of Germany's leading firms, all members of its Dax-30 blue-chip index, have become embroiled in corruption scandals in recent months.
Plans to slash European Union sugar prices will drive hundreds of thousands of farmers in the developing world into poverty and make a mockery of Europe's commitment to millennium development goals, ministers and NGOs warned recently. On Wednesday the European Commission announced proposals to cut the support price for white sugar by 39%.
United Kingdom Finance Minister Gordon Brown's stewardship of the British economy last week won glowing tributes from the European Commission. The commission's upbeat assessment came in a week when Prime Minister Tony Blair called a May 5 general election that will be dominated by Conservative opposition charges that the government's spending policies are out of control.
Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner, this week launched a fresh onslaught on protectionist forces in Europe and the rest of the world and demanded the dismantling of virtually all barriers to trade in goods and services.
Mandelson argued in Stockholm that opening up European and global markets as a whole is the key to promoting growth and jobs at home -- and fighting poverty in the Third World.
European Union leaders will meet in an emergency session in Rome on Friday to deal with an unprecedented institutional crisis that deepened this week when the incoming commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, was forced to withdraw his entire team of commissioners. Barroso chose to backtrack when it became clear that members of the European Parliament would vote down his choice of commissioners.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and the squeeze on corporate profits continue to take their toll on British Airways (BA), which this week disclosed a 2% drop in traffic last month as travellers in Asia shunned flying.