Joint Armaments Projects: German-French Secret Paper Reorganises Arms Exports
(Source: Der Spiegel; published Feb 15, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
Germany will grant France extensive freedom in joint arms projects to sell jointly-developed weapons systems to third countries: This is the result of a secret agreement reached by the governments in Berlin and Paris on 14 January. "The parties will not oppose any transfer or export to third countries," according to the document available to Spiegel.

This is about joint projects such as the planned main battle tank or the new fighter aircraft that France and Germany want to develop together. For months, Paris and Berlin had been arguing whether Berlin could later veto French deals with difficult partners like Saudi Arabia.

There is no talk of a veto in the secret pact. Only if direct interests or national security are endangered, one of the partners can bring concerns, it is said. The two-page document, written in English, is entitled "Franco-German Industrial Co-operation in Defense - Common Understanding and Principles of Sales."

The agreement complements the new Franco-German treaty signed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in Aachen at the end of January. In the treaty, arms exports are mentioned only in a general statement that states they want to establish common rules for the sale of armaments co-operations.

In the supplementary paper, the partners agree to inform each other "early on" when arms exports outside NATO are planned. If it comes to a dispute, Berlin and Paris want to open within two months "high-level talks for an exchange of views and the search for alternatives begin," the text of the agreement, in which a "permanent body" for advising fundamental export issues is agreed.

Common European line on the theme of arms exports?

The Federal Government did not want to comment on the confidential document. Foreign Minister Michael Roth told the Spiegel: "An even closer Franco-German cooperation offers the opportunity to make Europe more sovereign, but we too will have to compromise on this." A "United Europe" cannot mean that “every national decision is automatically implemented one to one."

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen also expressed her openness to compromise with France. She demanded in an interview that Europe should "develop common ethical standards and principles" for armaments exports. But you have to approach each other. "The insistence on maximum positions does not create a strong community," says von der Leyen.

The eternal question: Can you ship weapons to Saudi Arabia?

Germany and France are very far apart in terms of arms exports. While Paris regards the sale of weapons throughout the world as an economic factor and provides massive political support, Berlin is pursuing a more restrictive policy. Every single delivery outside NATO must be approved by the Federal Security Council.

Currently, arms shipments to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are particularly controversial. While Germany blocked the delivery of shipments already approved following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Paris sees no reason not to continue supplying weapons to the Saudis. France forbade any criticism of this approach.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: The new “secret” arms export rules outlined above are very similar to those that currently govern the export of French-German weapons, enshrined by the so-called Debré-Schmidt agreements.
Signed in 1971 by the two countries’ then defense ministers, Michel Debré and Helmut Schmidt, and which stipulates that each country will allow the other to export weapons developed in common.
On the matter of joint arms exports, the Treaty of Aachen simply states in its article 4 that “Both States will develop a common approach to arms exports with regard to joint projects,” and suggests that the Franco-German Defense and Security Council is “the political body to steer these reciprocal commitments.”
Consequently, the issue is not what new rules can be agreed for the future, but how consistent successive German governments will be in applying the Debré-Schmidt agreements, which are still valid and applicable, both in letter and in spirit.)


(ends)



German Halt in Saudi Arms Sales Causing Serious Problems: Airbus (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published Feb. 15, 2019)
By Sabine Siebold and Andrea Shalal
MUNICH/BERLIN --- Germany's halt of exports to Saudi Arabia is preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Riyadh, and has delayed potential sales of other weapons such as the A400M military transport, a top Airbus official said Friday.

Germany in November said it would reject future export licenses to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has not formally banned previously approved deals, which would entitle companies to compensation, but has urged industry to refrain from such shipments for now.

Airbus Defence and Space chief Dirk Hoke told Reuters that uncertainty about the issue had undermined Germany's credibility, and could threaten future Franco-German defense projects, including a planned Eurodrone that was heading for an initial contract by the end of the year.

"This is a serious problem," Hoke said in an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. "We're facing constraints in many projects, and many problems have been put on ice," including what he called discussions about a sale of A400M military transports to Saudi Arabia. (end of excerpt)




Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.

(ends)




Airbus CEO Tells Germany to Reform Arms Policy for Good of Europe (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published Feb. 15, 2019)
By Andreas Rinke
MUNICH --- Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders urged Germany to press ahead with plans to create common European regulations on arms exports, saying the issue posed a litmus test for Berlin's ambitions to foster a European defense policy.

By showing "a kind of moral super-elevation" on arms exports, Germany was frustrating Britain, France and Spain, Enders told Reuters, adding that without a common European approach Airbus could consider manufacturing German-free products.

German restrictions on arms exports to non-EU or NATO countries have been a thorn in bilateral co-operation for years because of the historical objections of the Social Democrats, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition.

Berlin can stop exports of arms that include parts made in Germany under existing arrangements.

"Yes, the French and Germans are apparently talking about it and trying to find a new regulation ... But at the moment there are no results," Enders told Reuters in an interview.

"It has been driving us crazy at Airbus for years that when there is even just a tiny German part involved in, for example, helicopters the German side gives itself the right to, for example, block the sale of a French helicopter," he added. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.

-ends-




prev next

Official reports See all