Jörg Herwig in “Europäische Sicherheit & Technik“ on 3rd May 2019 (May issue): Europe must equip

Is Germany building an aircraft carrier? The new CDU chairman Anne Kramp-Karrenbauer has caused a lot of trouble with her push for a new European defence project. There was even a photo collage on internet with a troop of soldiers carrying a tornado on their hands.

Seen soberly, Germany might not really want to participate in such a project at the moment. There is simply no financial room for manoeuvre. Although defence funding will continue to rise in 2020, not to such an extent that other European megaprojects would have to be financed in addition to the already endangered major German projects. Nevertheless, the debate initiated by Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer can be regarded as positive: So the politician puts her finger deep into the wound! And at the right time.

At present, Europe is anything but a stable defence alliance: it lacks the common will, determination and strategy - and, ultimately, the necessary equipment to enable the continent to defend itself. Without NATO, that is a fact, Europe is not strong enough to defend itself. It also means that Europe will continue to depend on the United States for defence. After all, the threats are not diminishing: Russia continues to cause unrest on Europe's eastern border. In the Middle East, peace is a long way off. And on the Asian continent, not least India and Pakistan are causing serious conflicts alongside North Korea.

The European aircraft carrier will ultimately become a symbol of Europe's weakness. For there is no such thing, even though a global protecting power inevitably needs one. On the basis of this finding, a political agenda is actually easy to formulate: Europe urgently needs more investment in its own security if it wants to be a global protecting power and really wants to secure its own continent. And it needs a common defence strategy: where equipment is still lacking, it must be procured quickly.

Last but not least, Europe depends on a strong, innovative defence industry. Here, too, the continent still needs to improve. From the point of view of industrial policy, however, it is important to warn against quick shots: it does not go far enough to rely solely on the bundling of national industrial policy capabilities and to form corporate colossuses. Europe's strength lies in its diversity! Competition between companies is a key driver of innovation. It also ensures that know-how and added value are distributed throughout Europe. It speaks for Europe if, for example, there are several shipyards that can build ships of the highest quality. The only important thing is that they should be built and have a permanent place in a European defence concept.

The key to strengthening the defence industry in the European sense is cooperation. This applies to both industry and governments. In this respect, we can agree with Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer when she calls for joint European procurement projects. Before this can succeed, however, Germany in particular must ensure that local industry is given the opportunity to develop further technologically. The planned multi-purpose warship MKS 180 offers a huge opportunity for this. Only if their own companies are considered for major projects can they cooperate with Europe's top companies in the long term. 

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