Friday, 13 April 2018

German corruption will rot the whole EU fish

Fish they say rots from the head. The Telegraph details an explosive leak of documents (£) from the EU itself detailing EU collusion in illegal Gazprom trade terms - the analysis of which I'll leave to our valued and wise colleagues over at Capitalists at Work - it emerges that Germany enjoyed Russian gas at up to half the cost of her poorer neighbours, and it's suggested that this sweetheart deal kept a lid on the whole corrupt and secretive arrangements for so long, arrangements that beggared Germany's neighbours. It also helps explain Germany absenting herself from both European and international sanctions and other measures against Russia.

Institutionalised German corruption is a new idea. Those of us who've always thought of Germans as upright rule-followers obsessed with their stools may have to revise our opinion of them to Italians with a savings habit. The Volkswagen emissions scandal - again, a German leading role given the scale and value of German car production - was also known about throughout Brussels. But we've always known that the EU is irredeemably corrupt. And Martin Selmayr, the Federast High Priest, most recently appointed corruptly as head of the EU's civil service giving the corrupt Germans one of their own at the heart of the EU. 

Germany scores low on international indices of commercial rectitude. Her courts are corrupted and she scores lower than many second-world nations on WEF indices. But the main problem with German corruption is that they're so damn efficient at it on such a large scale - they've industrialised it. An entire continent's car production, an entire continent's gas consumption, both fouled by deep rooted and well-organised national corruption. And no, the French or the Spanish or the Italians would not have done it if Germany hadn't cheated and manufactured a cover up. 

That Germany's corruption is known and supported not only by the German government but by the whole EU is evidenced by the utter absence of criminal actions flowing from the diesel scam. This was not a victimless crime. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the emission standards, the facts are that car makers lied and cheated and as a consequence millions of diesel owners have effectively lost money - in some cases many thousands. So far the only car executive to face jail time is a German Volkswagen VP who failed to escape from the US in time. 

The EU has only one member that comes close to the UK in terms of low corruption, business rectitude, judicial independence and other Transparency and WEF criteria and that's the Netherlands; in many cases they score better than the UK. No surprise. The Dutch have long been both valued and admired as allies and rivals. Fish rots from the head, and the EU's uncontested head right now is Germany. If German corruption and hegemony is unchallenged, the EU will putresce. However, if a combination of the Netherlands and the Visegrad group move to wrest power from a sclerotic and corrupt Franco-German grasp, the UK may enjoy the benefits post-Brexit of a reformed Europe.  


  1. Oh so it was Russian gas! I follow the news from Germany and over the last couple of years there have been things that I couldn't explain, that just seemed 'off' and I assumed I was 'missing something'. Thanks for that Raed, that makes perfect sense.

  2. Jack are you OK?

    Don't I even get a mild bollocking for ignorance and stereotyping?
    I thought I'd included at least three things for you to bite at ...;)

  3. Bloke in North Dorset13 April 2018 at 07:11

    Hardly a surprise, spots and leopards spring to mind when it comes to institutions.

    Its not that long ago that bribery of foreign officials and business people was not only legal in Germany but actively pursued by German companies and tacitly supported by the government.

    Read up on the Siemens scandal where bribery was just a line item and executives would collect suitcases full of cash from the finance department.


  4. Don't I even get a mild bollocking for ignorance and stereotyping?

    Was it supposed to be a stereotype? Germans are rule keeping, forms in triplicate, anal obsessives. And the relationship between German Industry and the Government has always been perverse. I doubt anyone who knows a bit about Germany would deny that. On the other hand Germans would point to the fact that their government's incestuous relationship with Big Made-in-Germany means they have an economy so healthy it is a source of embarrassment when Merkel meets with other leaders- all of whom would give their eye-teeth for it.

  5. terence patrick hewett13 April 2018 at 07:44

    The UK has the most trusted legal system in the world: A legal system that gives commercial enterprises protection against government: it is no accident that China has chosen London to be the first centre outside Asia in which investors will be able to clear and settle Chinese Renminbi trades.

    And it is no accident that India’s first offshore rupee-denominated bond was listed on the London Stock Exchange: issued by India’s largest bank HDFC: Chairman Deepak Parekh praised London’s “wide range of financial instruments” and “unshakable trust from international investors.”

    Unlike the EU the UK does not attack commercial competitors using the legal system: the EU attacks companies like Intel, Google/Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Chrysler, Fox, Facebook, Starbucks, Apple, Sony et al by using antitrust charges to further the interests of Eurozone technology companies.

    Circa 2016 - in terms of shareholder protection the UK is 4th in the world behind Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore: France is 29th: Germany is 49th.

    In terms of creditor protection: Germany is 28th: France is 79th.

    No other EU country can match the UK on Rule of Law: the UK is 3rd in the world for property rights protection: 2nd in the world for Investment Freedom: 3rd in the world for Financial Freedom. As The Wall Street Journal’s Jon Sindreu has noted: “most international financial contracts are written in English law.”

    The World Ranking of Judicial Independence cites: UK 6th - Rwanda is 23rd, Germany 24th, France 28th, Saudi Arabia 30th, India 53rd, Spain 58th and Italy 65th.

    The EU is like Volkswagen writ large: when they can’t hack it – they crook. That is why after Brexit there will be minimal movement by financial services to the continent. Because everyone knows that the corrupt and protectionist EU is as bent as a nine-bob note.

  6. tph - excellent points

    It also raises the probability that once the UK escapes from the malign corruption of the ECJ, the EU's 'Freisler' court, our international ratings will spring up a point or two. They're dragging us down.

  7. ".. by the whole EU is evidenced by the utter absence of criminal actions.."

    Surely you don't expect the dog to bite the master's hand...

  8. No sympathy for those who were conned in the diesel affair - indeed still are, because it is not just VW group products. They just happen to have got caught.

    However, in the UK most status cars are leased, so the real victims are the second hand buyers - and they don't count.

    For several years Toyota have been using BMW diesel motors for their cars because even Toyota can't meet the emissions standards. No shame in that because they've chosen to quit flogging smaller diesels and concentrate on hybrid.

    And the number of sad sacks who think their Polo or Up is made in Germany. Wrong, Germany can no longer do small cars. Polo's are made in Spain or S Africa. Ups Slovenia.


  9. There are levels of corruption:

    (in no particular order)


    The list can (obviously) be extended downwards to the point where (some) men-in-the-street appear on it but their influence is nothing as compared to top-level corruption and is, invariably, just a counter-attack against those that trespass against them.

    Attacking a million cash-in-hand workers will achieve nothing whereas taking out a few 'top level' despots would make huge changes to 'everyone's' lives - take Soros for example.....

    The higher you go up the list the fewer you have to 'get rid of'.

    When do we start?

  10. I’m wondering if the good folks who compile the corruption list are insusceptible to persuasion by interested parties.
    Like every other thing on the planet.

  11. My daughter's US employer made it clear to UK staff that they would not be moving their European Headquarters from Britain following Brexit as they wished to continue to operate under impartial UK commercial law.

  12. During the 1990's I worked for a company that used lists to market and sell "collectibles", it was quite fashionable at the time.

    We were doing well in the UK and so we decided to expand into the EU, we began with France and then Germany. I was with my boss during a couple of meetings, one of the subjects covered was how would these prospective agents handle "bad debt". The German agent told him in no uncertain terms that we were dealing with Germans... Germans pay their way, there would be no bad debt.

    Understandably we were more confident selling into Germany than in France, where the answer to this question had led to much shoulder shrugging and waffle.

    The worst decision we ever made was to expand into Germany, virtually none of the customers paid for their goods and we ended up writing it all off. The French were darlings.

    Personally, I don't like them anyway, they seem to think that it is their right to expand Germany across the whole of Europe.


  13. The worst decision we ever made was to expand into Germany, virtually none of the customers paid for their goods and we ended up writing it all of

    On a note of historical interest (for the sad and lonely like me) one of the German words for such customers is 'split ears', harking back i assume to a time of a less forgiving justice system.

    That your firm ended up writing off the debt rather than perusing it through the torturous German legal maze is of course the very reason your D-customers stiffed you. TBH though in the UK it isn't really that different and thanks of course to May et al the historicla British reputation for honesty in their dealings has plummeted lower than the £ against the Euro.

    But it does cut the other way too: a lot of German businesses were flabbergasted to learn that a German bad debtor can simply relocate to the UK for a year or so, pay £400+ on landing declaring himself bankrupt and then return to Germany a year or two later and stick two fingers up to his former creditors.

  14. Not applicable to debts over €5k, but one of the genuinely good things the EU has forced onto Europe is a UK-style small claims process. To sue someone in Austria you have to pay lawyers €300/hr with a hefty up-front payment - consequently justice is out of reach of most people and small firms, and many debts are just written off.

    However, if you've contracted with a firm or person in *another* EU country you can use the low-cost fixed fee small claims process - and if you're a consumer, even have the case heard in your country of residence.

    Since German materials / equipment are up to 30% cheaper than exactly the same in Austria, I often order insulation, plasterboard, sanitaryware etc from German firms - about a third of which try some sort of dirty trick (they think anyone from Austria is mentally sub normal - and imagine they're immune from legal action). After a couple of warning shots I mail them the claim form, which so far (four times I've had to use it) has scared the shit out of them. The transformation from arrogant ubermensch to at-your-heel hund is wondrous.

    It's one of the small footnote EU things that really works. And as it's very very similar to UK small claims process, I wouldn't be surprised if it was introduced by UK. They'll miss us after Brexit ..

    Bookmark it; I suspect you can still use it up to 2020

  15. Doug Shoulders asked..

    I’m wondering if the good folks who compile the corruption list are insusceptible to persuasion by interested parties.

    Well, if the Germans paid hefty bribes and *still* only got to 24th place, God knows where they started ...;)

  16. Radders - was it Churchill who the said the Germans are either at your throat or at your feet...

  17. about a third of which try some sort of dirty trick Raed

    Only a third? That, I hate to say it, doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Personally I blame the internet- which, for once, I mean seriously. Whilst being online has forced, by and large, UK firms to buck up their idea of customer service and payments, German business as a whole has gone backwards (and it wasn't in a very good place to start with thanks to all those 'protectionist' laws that the new Bundesratbag took over from the Nazis). If anyone doesn't believe me then just compare a German ebay site with a Brit one...the German one is two thirds full of 'legals'. Even as a private person buying on the internet I now tend to avoid German sellers, whereas a few years ago I was happy to pay the extra postage just not to have to support the UK economy. A recent highest court judgement in Germany also means that if i do have a problem with a German seller and paypal find for me and refund me then the seller can still take me to court (no doubt using that EU Small Claims you mention).

    they think anyone from Austria is mentally sub normal Have you ever heard someone from deepest Niederau speak? But yes , as in all other nations on Earth, natives assume that foreigners or 'cousins' are mentally best....says the man who lives in Norfolk. And the Austrians have as many stereotypes about the 'piefke' (Germans) and the Bavarians are happy, when in their cups (ie always), to reminisce about the days when it was legal to shoot a 'saupreuss' (Prussian sow).

  18. Haha! Yep. I think they watch too many pirate films. eBay is easy though - when they send you through the order confirmation substituting pages and pages of their own AGMs I send them a standard response

    Danke für deine Bestätigung

    Verkaufsbedingungen sind die zum Zeitpunkt des Vertragsschlusses von eBay angegebenen.


  19. As a small time exporter to Germany and Belgium I must have been lucky then. The Germans were friendly, sensible, straightforward and honest; paying 2 to 3 months after invoice. The Belgians were prickly, officious and honest; similarly paying 2 to 3 months after invoice.

  20. Most of my business was in the UK. I had (thankfully, only) four instances of dishonest dealing: a supplier blabbed to a competitor, losing me that annual business entirely; a customer for whom I supplied the required work at the required time, but for which he paid me exactly half the agreed price; and two instances of failure to pay at all. None of which I pursued because the time and trouble would not be worth it given that the Small Claims court couldn't enforce its judgements.

  21. Yeah.... well

    just look who's chairman of Nord Stream