By Krassen Nikolov
Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki (the nationalist VMRO party, affiliated to the European Conservatives and Reformists Group ECR) stated that the European Commission should not allow Volkswagen to invest in Turkey. He also promised to raise the issue of future investment of the German automaker in the European Parliament.
In the coming weeks VW is expected to announce the location of its future factory. Bulgaria and Turkey are the only left competitors for the investment to the tune of €1.4 billion. The advantage of Turkey is the suitable location near Izmir where the plant can be build. Izmir is a harbour city. If VW chooses Bulgaria the factory should be near the capital Sofia.
The port is not the only advantage of Turkey. There is a lot more free labor in the country too. And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to Volkswagen large state subsidies, including buying many cars for the use of the administration. Bulgaria’s only advantage is its EU membership. But it could be a disadvantage too, since the state cannot grant excessive bonuses to a private company.
Angel Dzhambazki said it would be “immoral” if the European Commission would not intervene, and thus would show “double standards towards a country like Bulgaria”.
He quotes the 2018 annual report of the Volkswagen Group. It shows that the German State of Lower Saxony is the second largest shareholder in the group and owns 20% of the votes in the board of directors. (The official information on the company’s website is that the State of Lower Saxony owns 11.8% of the shares.) According to Dzhambazki, it is unacceptable for a company with such a large public participation to invest in a country like Turkey.
“The 2018 European Parliament’s resolution on the progress of the Republic of Turkey clearly mentions repression against journalists and the members of civil society. It also recommends freezing the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance in that country and linking it to improvements in the field of human rights and democracy, “commented Dzhambazki.
He asks the European Commission whether it is appropriate for a publicly owned company to invest in a country that “can be described as an Islamizing dictatorship”.
“With the European Union ready to freeze IPA II, should a significant investment from a European publicly-owned company be directed to Turkey? Does the EC consider it appropriate to harm European workers by exporting production so close to the borders of the union? “, Dzhambazki asks. His position will also be presented in the European Parliament.
Nevertheless most international media predict that the investment will be made in Turkey. In recent weeks, however, German media have started questioning VW’s decision because of the image problems with the Erdogan regime. The new factory must produce several of the Volkswagen brands, such as Skoda and Seat. The new plant is expected to start production in 2022 and to hire 5,000 employees.