Morning Briefing

Scholz's Mea Culpa

In his official statement yesterday, Hamburg’s Social Democratic mayor Olaf Scholz continued to take stock of the riots that marred last week’s G20 summit in his city. Visibly remorseful, Scholz apologized to the people of Hamburg for breaking his pre-summit promise to keep the city safe. It remains to be seen whether he can recover politically or is now damaged goods.

Indeed, the press is still taking aim at Scholz, for instance in an investigative report by Georg Mascolo in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. The article published snippets from reports by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency and federal office of criminal investigation, which were delivered to both Scholz and Chancellor Angela Merkel in the spring. The detailed analysis of the potential for violence certainly offered no reason for calm.

“Due to Hamburg’s urban environment and flourishing left-wing extremist scene, the city provides the perfect stage for violent riots led by both domestic and foreign left-wing protestors,” the report states unequivocally. Elsewhere, it emphasizes the summit’s proximity to the historically left-wing Schanzenviertel neighborhood, where much of the rioting took place. “The area is a center for left-wing extremists who see the G20 summit as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regain their reputation within their spectrum.” The documents don’t necessarily scream for politicians to resign, but they do warrant an official investigation.

Donald Trump is back in Europe. He will be dining tonight with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Eiffel Tower. He is also scheduled to stick with Macron tomorrow for the Bastille Day military parade, which commemorates the storming of the former prison and the beginning of the French revolution. It’s an oddly appropriate distraction for Trump, who seems glad to escape the political storm brewing back home in Washington.

Angela Merkel is now visiting Macron at the Élysée Palace before Trump arrives. “Together we will restore Europe,” Macron recently promised both the German chancellor and the rest of the world. This is why the Merkel brought along her most important cabinet members, including Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. As Handelsblatt correspondents in Berlin and Paris have learned, the group will present a roadmap for coordinating a European business tax. Thanks to Merkel and Macron’s political partnership, Europe seems to be making progress. Are we seeing the emergence of the EU’s Han Solo and Princess Leia?

Either way, the meeting will be bad news for Google and co., whose tax avoidance strategies would be destroyed by a unified European regime. According to Merkel and Macron, if US companies want to make money in the Old World, they have to pay taxes here, too. Europe first! Maybe some of Trump’s ideas aren’t so bad after all.

The auto industry is lobbying for retrofitting diesel cars within the EU. As Handelsblatt has learned from industry insiders, the heads of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen held an informal meeting in Brussels with Jyrki Katainen, vice president of the European Commission, to find a solution to their diesel conundrum. The goal is to reduce toxic emissions and fine dust in order to avert a diesel car ban. The industry knows it’s only a temporary solution for their fuel of choice. The clock is ticking.

Rüdiger Grube, a former member of Daimler’s board of directors and head of train operator Deutsche Bahn, now has a new job as chairman of US investment bank Lazard. For the financial institution, the German exec is a real catch. And for Grube, it’s surely more fun to talk about his bonuses than about passenger rail memberships.

Picture of the Day

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth rides in a carriage with Spain's King Felipe, following a ceremonial welcome in London. The Spanish king and his wife, Queen Letizia, began their official state visit to Britain on Wednesday. Source: Jack Hill/Reuters
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