Deutschland über alles? The Bundestag’s Stunning Resistance Against France
(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted Nov. 23, 2022)

By Alistair Davidson
Since a mockup was unveiled in great pomp at the 2019 Peris Air Show, the FCAS program has stagnated, with industry in-fighting, Bundeswehr scepticism and now growing anti-French demands from the Bundestag.
During its session of the 11th November, the Budget Committee (Haushaltauschuss) of the German Bundestag reiterated its demands to the government regarding weapons programs in co-operation with France. These demands are nothing new, as they were clearly expressed during the session of June 26, 2021, but now they are renewed despite a new political majority in Cabinet and in Parliament.

The resolution adopted by the Committee is a hymn to industrial patriotism, a sort of industrial Deutschland über alles, especially as far as co-operation with France is involved.

In this framework, the committee demands from the Ministry of Defense:

--a total parallelism between the two main platform projects in terms of agenda;
--the consolidation of Germany’s land systems industry (a merger between Rheinmetall & KMW? A take-over of Rheinmetall of KMW or the end of KNDS? The strategy is not detailed),
--the safeguarding of Germany’s technological, industrial and financial interests, and
--the acceleration of the German strategy of in-sourcing investments and demonstrators.

Year after year, the same mistrust towards France

What is particularly striking in all the decisions of the Committee is the constancy with which it defends the same objectives, year after year, and the way by which it insists on the protection of the German defence industry in an attitude full of defiance towards France: equal footing, running in parallel the two programs to avoid to be double-crossed, consolidating the German industry, controlling the measures in favour of the industrial policy in and for Germany within the framework of these projects.

To take a closer look:

--Regarding the objective to run in parallel the NGF & MGCS, motion n°68 directed in June 2021 “4.2: “take immediate measures to ensure that the FCAS and the MGCS will be run in parallel,” while in November 2022, the committee indicated that the objective is to “take immediately all the measures to reach the parallelism of the two projects”.

--Regarding the goal of securing and accelerating the in-sourcing of investments in Germany, motion n°68 stated in June 2021 “5.4. In this regard, it is needed to intensify the measures to protect the German key-technologies,” while in November 2022 the committee indicated its will to “pursue and extend the measures for the development, the production, the availability of national technologies in and for Germany”.

--Regarding the principle of equal footing, motion n°68 stated in June 2021 “In addition, the budget committee requires the Federal government to ensure that 5.1. the partner states and their industries enter Phase 1B (of the NGF) on a recognizably equal footing and that the project is immediately transferred to an international program organization for this purpose,” while in November 2022 the committee again indicated its will to “ensure that partner countries and their industries cooperate with each other on an equal footing.”

Finally, motion n°68 in June 2021 made no direct mention of the consolidation of the German Land systems industry, but in a letter date June, 14, 2019 to Ursula von der Leyen, then MoD, the same committee wrote: “1. The decision of the Committee shall be submitted, by 30 September 2019, either to a consolidation of the German defense industry; Or, failing that, the appointment of a German company playing the role of prime contractor to manage the MGCS program; vs. As long as one of the two solutions has not been found, no progress can be made on the FCAS/SCAF in the Bundestag (decision n°2).”

In November 2022, the committee highlighted its determination to “pursue the interdepartmental control of the industrial policy of the NGWS/FCAS and MGCS programs and, in doing so, to exhaust all possibilities to achieve the agreements that are particularly necessary on the industry side. This includes, in particular, the consolidation of the German land armament industry;”

In this field it is worth mentioning that as regards Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), motion n°68 in June 2021 stated that “the uses of the IPR should be given independently from the project” (MGCS & NGF), while in November 2022, the committee made no comment in the field of IP rights.

So, in conclusion, the Bundestag’s Budget Committee seems to think that it can dictate its terms to France as easily as it can to its own government, but given the obstacles that this puts in the way of bilateral cooperation, Germany way well find itself going it alone, buying off-the-shelf from the United States and seeing its defense engineering know-how, as well as its industry’s turnover and employment, dissipate.

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