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Europe

Europe to Put on a United Front in Dealing With GM

The stakes for Europe are high. General Motors, the ailing US carmaker, employs some 400,000 people in a dozen European Union countries. Those countries agreed to work together to try and protect jobs.

GM logo over generic stock market chart and US 100 dollar bills and DOWN arrow, on texture, partial graphic

Europeans are concerned GM's woes could pull down carmakers in their countries

European Union finance ministers agreed Friday, March 13, that they would not take any national measures without coordinating and informing other countries. The ministers were in Brussels talks with GM's chief operating officer, Fritz Henderson, and the head of its European division, Carl Peter Forster.

The EU representatives called for "a coherent and coordinated political approach towards the European automotive industry, bearing in mind its primary entrepreneurial responsibility in a social market economy," the European Commission, which hosted the meeting, said in a statement.

There has been concern that individual EU countries will enact protectionist measures which will hurt other members of the bloc.

Carl Peter Forster, head of GM's European division, left, and Germany's Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

Guttenberg, right, is heading to the US for talks on GM

GM is negotiating with several EU countries in hopes of getting some 3.3 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in operating aid to keep it afloat. The company has already received massive aid from the United States.

GM wants European money

Henderson warned earlier that if no aid is forthcoming, the Detroit-based company could end up cutting 200,000 to 300,000 jobs in Europe.

Opel alone employs 26,000 people in Germany and the country's politicians have been locked in a debate about whether they should step in to rescue the carmaker. German Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is headed to the United States for talks with General Motors this weekend.

Guttenberg's deputy said his boss hopes to be able to speak on behalf of his European counterparts in his meeting with GM heads.

When it comes to General Motors, European countries have agreed to act as a team in order to protect jobs. Yet the struggling company has not yet said what it will do with its European subsidiaries.

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