General Motors bosses were summoned to Brussels to discuss the struggling car maker’s future in Europe.
GM’s chief operating officer, Fritz Henderson, and the head of its European division, Carl Peter Forster were questioned by the EU’s industry, competition and employment commissioners. Also keen to get answers were economic and industry ministers from the 11 EU countries where GM has factories or subsidiaries. The US parent company – which is on life support with bailout money from Washington – has proposed separating GM Europe from the rest of the group. Currently it is looking for 3.3 billion euros emergency aid from European governments to keep it going while seeking buyers. The problem is with sales heading downhill, there are few potential investors. BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen have all said they do not want to take over Opel, the biggest part of GM Europe. The governments have made it clear they do not want to end up owning GM’s European elements. GM has the brands Opel, Vauxhall and Saab. At the Brussels meeting, the EU said it is not going to stump up cash for any of them without getting information from other involved countries which means the United States. German Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was due to travel to the US on Sunday 15 March to try to get assurances that any European aid does not end up with the parent company in Detroit. Unions at GM’s European plants said this week that they would be willing to make concessions to help create an independent Opel-Vauxhall company to avoid layoffs and plant closures.