European Parliament sponsored by BMW

Hydrogen BMW entrance PHSIt must be for more than two months by now that a prominenently parked hydrogen BMW (“Clean Energy”) is standing at the main entrance of the European Parliament on Rue Wiertz. For security reasons not even bikes are allowed to be “parked” there normally, but for dear Bavarian car-maker BMW (read: Bayerische Motoren Werke) exceptions are nothing but expected. Now my first thought was that Parliament’s President “HGP” is simply keeping the new and extra car (besides his two official cars) close to his belt, but no. This BMW must be the third (car) in the fleet for our very mobile President – note his extensive travelling in the Middle East. Given the current energy price volatility the President is most likely acting in best intentions though. If he cannot broker peace in the Middle East during this summer, he might consider that future oil consumption of his car fleet could be better met by introducing a much less oil-dependent technology – such as hydrogen.

Hydrogen BMW frontal

You cannot really miss the commercial space on the bling-bling BMW’s side (see picture) indicating that this car is not only to keep pace with this other (EU) President, bling-bling Sarkozy, but might actually follow a new energy philosophy by the high house and its present ruler HGP.

Hydrogen. Hm. Sounds like renewable energies and Green and water and … Hey, but wait. The thing about hydrogen-powered cars is that you need to charge them with (regular) electricity. Doing that in Belgium would make me assume that it is filled with what Belgians load their guns – äh electric devices – with: Nuclar Energy. Not very clean then! (except for revisionist German conservatives maybe). But given that the car is simply standing outside the Parliament day and night anyways, I have come to two conclusions so far:

1. The proximity to Schloss Neuschwanstein, Brussels (the Bavarian embassy towards the EU), about 200m away from the BMW could simply mean that the BMW promotion department did not find an adequate parking space right at the embassy and parked it at closest convenience. Call this Bavarian pragmatism applied.

2. President Pöttering has discovered his Green credentials and realised that loading a potentially environmentally-friendly car with nuclear energy (or even coal) does not go down well with an eco image. So, better leave it parked somewhere – but at least in good visibility so as not to alienate BMW (do not forget that declared donations by BMW to CSU and CDU in 2007 account for around 206.000 Euro – and this is without those from the Quandt family and further attachments).

Hydrogen BMW frontal (big)On a more serious note: I have tried to understand the parking (or enegy?) policy of the Parliament’s president and sent some questions (see below) to his head of press (13 August) and his personal office (19 August). – No replies so far. Apparently also the Greens in the EP have already asked the EP Secretary General in early July about it. What am I making out of this? That BMW has got maybe the best lobbying/advertising space in Brussels for free and for a couple of months – and can probably even claim perfectly legal tax write-downs in Germany by declaring this a donation to the CDU. To the outside BMW simply call it:

Die Zukunft hält nicht an.

Der BMW Hydrogen 7 ist das erste Wasserstoff-Fahrzeug weltweit, das konsequent bis zur Serienreife entwickelt wurde. 100 Exemplare werden an bekannte Persönlichkeiten aus Kultur, Politik, Wirtschaft und Medien ausgeliehen: zum Beispiel an den Oscar-Preisträger Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck und an Erich Sixt, den Vorstandsvorsitzenden der Sixt AG.
Die Erfahrung beweist: Beim Umstieg auf Wasserstoff-Technologie bleibt der Standard an Komfort, Fahrdynamik und Sicherheit in gewohnter Weise gewährleistet.

How come they do not mention the “well-known personalities” from politics here? – European Voice already wrote in January about BMW’s effort to spoil first Commissioners Verheugen and Piebalgs, and later Pöttering with their hydrogen line (perfect timing, in parallel, with the decision in each institution about the car emission legislation).

My email to President Pöttering’s press spokeswoman Kathrin Ruhrmann:

To: katrin.ruhrmann {at} europarl.europa(.)eu
Date: 13.08.2008, 12.29h
Subject: BMW vor Parlamentseingang

Sehr geehrte Frau Ruhrmann,

vor dem Paul Henri Spaak Eingang (Rue Wiertz) des Parlaments steht seit einigen Wochen in prominenter Stellung ein BMW Hydrogenfahrzeug. Dazu hätte ich folgende Fragen an Sie:

1. Wem gehört das Fahrzeug?
2. Wer nutzt das Fahrzeug? Bzw. warum steht es die meiste Zeit vor dem Gebäude und wird nicht genutzt?
3. Falls das Fahrzeug von Parlamentsmitarbeitern (oder dem Präsidenten) oder anderen Ihnen bekannten Personen genutzt wird, können Sie mir sagen, mit welcher Energie es betankt wird?
4. Warum darf das Fahrzeug an dieser Stelle parken?
5. Trifft es zu, dass das Parlament/der Parlamentspräsident eine der 100 “bekannte Persönlichkeiten aus Kultur, Politik, Wirtschaft und Medien” ist, an die das Auto von BMW “ausgeliehen” wurde? (s.
6. Denken Sie, dass die öffentliche Zurschaustellung des BMW Fahrzeugs einer Art der Werbung für BMW entspricht? (Wie) ist dies vereinbar mit den Auflagen, die sich das Parlament u.a. nach der Causa European Business and Parliament Scheme gesetzt hat?
7. Gibt es in irgendeiner Form eine Zusammenarbeit des Präsidenten oder des Parlaments mit BMW?

Über die Beantwortung meiner Fragen bedanke ich mich im voraus. Kommentierung auf wird folgen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Jan Seifert

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