Europe is a mess. The French auto industry is doing its best imitation of 1980s-era Flint, Michigan, Mitsubishi just sold an assembly plant for a single euro and pundits are calling for Ford and General Motors to just bail on the whole continent, where sales are dropping at an alarming rate.

Good luck, Steve Girsky.

General Motors announced today that Karl-Friedrich Stracke, its European president and CEO of the Opel empire is out, and vice chairman Steve Girsky has the reins, at least on an interim basis. Girsky had been serving as chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board, crafting a turnaround plan for the beleaguered GM subsidiary. Stracke will "take on special assignments reporting to GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson," according to an official press release. (Bonus points are duly awarded for not saying that he would be spending more time with his family.)

According to Fortune, Opel has bled some $16.4 billion since 1999 and probably can't do much to right its financial fortunes until 2015, due to a labor agreement that forbids plant closures. The report indicates that this new assignment for Girsky is likely an audition for Akerson's job. Should he manage to produce any positive results with Opel, it could raise his standing within GM.
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Girsky to Serve as Interim Head of GM European Operations
GM Europe President Karl Stracke steps down to take on special assignments

RUSSELSHEIM, Germany – General Motors Europe President and Opel/Vauxhall CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke today stepped down from his position to take on special assignments reporting to GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, currently Chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board, will serve as acting head of GM's European operations as the company searches for a replacement.

Stracke, 56, was President, GM Europe and Chairman of the Management Board of Adam Opel, in charge of all Opel/Vauxhall operations. He led the effort to put Opel/Vauxhall on a path toward sustained profitability amid a massive European economic downturn.

The Opel Supervisory Board will be convened soon to appoint an interim chairman of the management board.

"Karl Stracke worked tirelessly, under great pressure, to stabilize this business and we look forward to building on his success. We appreciate Karl's many contributions to GM's success," Akerson said.

"I am leaving my current position knowing that Opel/Vauxhall has a bright future," Stracke said. "And I am looking forward to taking on new challenges for GM and Dan Akerson."Insert your press release here!

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