In the complex game of international relations, deciphering real powers from wannabes is sometimes as simple as paying attention to seemingly dull facts. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking note, as Suddeutsche Zeitung recently did in Europe, of what brand of vehicle people prefer to drive (translation ours):
On the [European Commission] parking lot it looks, for about three years now, as it does on the European soccer fields: German brands dominate. The EC fleet has 29 vehicles, one for each of the 26 commissioners, one for the president, and two in reserve, in case one of the cars breaks down. All 29 cars are German brands.
Up until three or four years ago, European statesmen would almost always drive vehicles from their home state: “Italians had their Lancias, the French their Citroëns, Peugeots, Renaults, and the British the Jaguar.” Today, European elites only drive bmws, Mercedes and Audis. Among European bureaucrats, it’s virtually unanimous—a term rarely deployed to describe any decision by the European Commission—that when it comes to luxurious, reliable vehicles, German is the only way to go.