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The clock runs down on Opel decision

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The clock runs down on Opel decision

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The German government could announce today whom it would prefer to rescue the European arm of General Motors. GM itself will have the final word but its choice will be heavily influenced by Berlin, as Germany is to provide billions of euros in loan guarantees.

At stake are the futures of all of GM plants in Europe: Opel in Germany, Spain, Poland and Belgium, Vauxhall in England and Saab in Sweden. Germany has the most to lose, with 25,000 workers employed at its four Opel sites. One bidder which has failed to satisfy German workers’ unions is Fiat. It’s boss, Sergio Marchionne, didn’t even meet union representatives when he visited Berlin yesterday. Laying out union demands, an Opel works council spokesman said: “Under the slogan ‘To share the pain,’ we are doing what we can to make sure there are no factory closures and no lay-offs anywhere in Europe.” Another bidder, Austro-Canadian parts-maker Magna, has promised to keep all four German plants open, making it the unions’ preferred buyer. But the other affected European countries are fighting their own corner. Belgium has written to the European Commission, asking that a solution be found on a European level and not purely a German one.