Europe: No Other Choice

When France's desperately indebt Citroën and Italy's thriving Fiat, which stands next only to the U.S.'s Big Three among world automakers, announced merger plans last month, they got short shrift from Charles de Gaulle. In exercising an effective veto, the De Gaulle government charged that the deal would threaten "the independence of a very important French company."

Still, in the eyes of Citroën President Pierre Bercot and Fiat Chairman Giovanni Agnelli, the French government's non was not absolute. They kept right on conferring and finally produced a plan that won De Gaulle's...