For whatever issues the European Union faces - we hear lots about the PIIG countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, not to mention Cyprus; will Britain join the euro or stay out?) - one undeniable fact remains: the two largest countries in that bloc, which were more-or-less in a continual state of war for most of the last couple of centuries, haven't fired a shot at each other since 1945.
That is progress.
Now however, a minor battle has erupted.
No gunfire is involved.
But for the past three months, France has been refusing to allow the German Daimler-Benz corporation to sell a wide swath of its new Mercedes-Benz product line (including the CLA shown here) because - well, because of air conditioning refrigerant.
The issue dates back to the 1970s, when the chemical universally used in automotive A/C systems, a chlorofluorocarbon called R12, was deemed to be a threat to the ozone layer.
It was banned - subsequently, the ozone layer has apparently begun to heal; cause and effect, if any, not really established.
It was replaced with the seemingly less-threatening R-134a.
But when R-134a leaked, as refrigerants do, it turned out to be a way worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the universal Bad Boy of that branch of environmental science.
So another new compound - R-1234yf - was introduced, and became the European Union-mandated product.
As I understand it, this was invented and is made only by Honeywell and DuPont - I know a bit about cars, not so much about cartels...
But Daimler-Benz says that R-1234yf is extremely flammable, and when it leaks in crash tests, it can cause fires. Safety has long been a Mercedes touchstone, so the company has gone back to R-134 until a better replacement can be found.
This is in contravention of the EU rules. Almost needless to say, the German government gave Daimler-Benz a Mulligan on this one.
But France decided to put its foot down by refusing to register any new Mercedes models with R-134a in their A/C systems.
German cars tend to emit more pollutants by virtue of their larger, more powerful engines than do French cars, which tend to be smaller.
Gosh, you don't think the French government is playing politics here, do you? Using regulations to help their home-grown manufacturers? Who would even think of such a thing?
(Well, I guess I did, so...).
In any event, just three days ago, France's highest 'administrative court' - I guess it's like their Supreme Court? - struck down the ban.
The war isn't over.
But this battle goes to the Germans.