Monday 11 December 2017

The Punt: Schaeuble spies his chance to lighten mood at EU summit

Quentin Peel
Orlaith Blaney

HUMOROUS moments at meetings of EU finance ministers in Brussels are few and far between. They're generally rather staid affairs discussing tedious, though important, issues.

So the press enjoyed a lighter moment yesterday when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, pictured, took a swipe at the US over the latest spying controversy.

And we all know that Germany has recently been at the centre of that controversy, after it emerged that the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel had been tapped by the US's broad spying network.

The so-called Ecofin meeting in Brussels was discussing proposals for the automatic exchange of information on tax matters within the EU.

But it appears some in Germany think we're looking for information in the wrong area.

"Some people in Germany are saying, why do we not have exchange of information with US? They have all,'' quipped Mr Schaeuble.

"But that's a different issue,'' he added.

New coalition, same old ideas

The most probable new government in Germany is a "grand coalition" of Christian and Social Democrats which may mean some extra stimulus at home, especially through public investment.

But don't expect too much change, the Financial Times' recently departed man in Berlin, Quentin Peel, told a meeting at the Instititute for International and European Affairs in Dublin this week.

The Germans do things differently, Mr Peel explained. He recalled going to his new bank to open a credit card account and saying that he intended paying off the entire amount at the end of each month. The manager looked at him in surprise. "But Herr Peel, you don't have a choice."

Nor need Germans worry about their loyalty cards being hacked. They have never caught on across the Rhine. "People don't like anyone knowing how they spend their money," Mr Peel told his incredulous audience. No wonder we don't understand each other.

Unfashionable impression

WE'RE NOT sure if we're impressed or disappointed. Two Irish businesswomen have made it on to the pages of the 'New York Times' – talking about the clothes they wear to work. The women in question were Orlaith Blaney, chief executive of Irish advertising agency McCann Blue, and her personal stylist Frances Jones – who provided an insight into wearing colour to work and "personal branding", whatever that is.

"The notion of colour, and the implication it has of attracting attention, often causes women in the corporate world to dress like their male counterparts," says the article, with Ms Jones pointing out that "(a businesswoman) doesn't have to be seen as fluffy or light by showing her feminine side".

"The more skin you show, the more power you give away," she added.

The Punt just doesn't like this kind of article. Corporate women have enough to worry about without being advised to start artfully mismatching their trouser suits to fit in with hip tech clients, as the article does. And it's hard to imagine the 'New York Times' pressing Michael O'Leary or Dermot Desmond about where they get their suits.

Irish Independent

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