Chrysler might seem like the ugly girl at the dance right now, but Fiat wants to partner up for the long haul, and it thinks it has made a strong case to be allowed to do it. While the company leaves the decision up to President Obama's Task Force on the Auto Industry, Marchionne has turned his attention back to the market where he thinks the worst is over, and a recovery is already underway.

The cheerful outlook on the European market seems to be grounded in the same realism that couches approval of the Chrysler merger in fatalistic terms, but it's not a popular viewpoint - yet.

“The recovery process has started. The worst of the global financial crisis is over, but the consequences remain,” Marchionne told Automotive News Europe, “After the storm is over, you can start cleaning up.” He cautions that government interference and protectionism could slow the recovery in Europe, however.

Marchionne's assessment isn't mere speculation: it comes from discussions with the leadership in both the markets and the governments of the major countries: “I had the chance to talk twice with the U.S. President’s automotive task force at the Treasury Department and I saw a strong determination to find feasible solutions," he said.

That ties back into the ongoing attempts to tie-up with Chrysler. The decision to do so makes much more sense in the light of Marchionne's assessment of the marketplace as on the verge of re-growth, rather than as amidst the doldrums of one of the worst economies of the last half-century. Nevertheless, he remains guarded in his expectations. “It is useless being optimistic [about the Chrysler-Fiat approval] until there is an announcement,” he said. "I think we did our best and that we could have not done more. I have peace of mind."

If the $10 billion Chrysler-Fiat deal goes forward, the two companies could share technology and distribution resources, enabling Fiat and Alfa Romeo to gain quick re-entry to the U.S. market and giving Chrysler access to a range of new platforms to work with.