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German Think Tanks Call for Consolidation of Europe's National Defense Industries

Oct. 30, 2013 - 02:27PM   |  
By JULIAN HALE   |   Comments
Constanze Stelzenmüller, senior trans-Atlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US;, Ian Lesser, senior director of the German Marshall Fund of the US; Rosa Balfour, senior policy analyst at the European Policy Centre; and Markus Kaim, head of the Research Division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
Constanze Stelzenmüller, senior trans-Atlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US;, Ian Lesser, senior director of the German Marshall Fund of the US; Rosa Balfour, senior policy analyst at the European Policy Centre; and Markus Kaim, head of the Research Division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. (German Marshall Fund)
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BRUSSELS — A paper on German foreign and security policy prepared by two leading think tanks calls for a consolidation of national defense industries to ensure that Europe’s defense industry stays competitive in the long term.

The paper, “New Power New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World,” was presented here Oct. 30 by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. It drew on expertise from working groups made up of government officials, parliament officials, think tanks and nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International.

“Germany is one of the few countries in the EU and NATO not to have a national security strategy or something similar. This means that there is no guidance to partners on what the country aspires to,” said Markus Kaim, a project leader from the SWP. “This project tries to fill that gap,” he said.

The paper “is not an official government document,” he cautioned, but it did receive support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He described it as a “framework for Germany’s foreign and security policy” and added that the “next logical step would be to develop specific strategies for specific countries with specific challenges.”

“Germany will also have to lead more often in the future. This does not mean always taking the initiative and expecting others to follow. Rather, it means investing in long-term relationships and compromises,” says the paper in its introduction. It argues that Germany should push for reform of the United Nations and the international financial institutions so that “room is made for participation by the emerging powers and that their interests are taken seriously.

“Those new shaping powers who are able and willing to assume responsibility for the international order ought to be represented in the Security Council. This includes Germany; yet a European seat on the Security Council is desirable in the long term,” it says.

The report includes a diagram with allies (e.g. the US, EU etc.), challengers (e.g. India or China) and spoilers (primary ones: Iran, Syria, North Korea; and secondary ones: Cuba and Venezuela).

In the future, the paper suggests that “some challenger states could become real partners for Germany but it is also conceivable that some will opt for confrontation. Here, Germany will have to combine engagement and containment in concert with other like-minded states.”

As for the spoilers, their “spoiler potential can result from the fact that they possess or proliferate weapons of mass destruction or that they support or harbour terrorists; from their location (for example at a strategic transport route or a maritime choke point); or from internal conflicts that have an impact on their neighbours and quite often on the entire region.”

Based on her discussions with EU diplomats, Rosa Balfour, a senior policy analyst at the European Policy Centre, said there was “insufficient dialogue between Germany and France/the UK even in a conceptual sense on when to intervene abroad and what the appropriate legal framework should be.

“Partners are left unclear on what Germany’s motivations are,” she said, lamenting a situation in which, for the last 10 years, there has been a “pick and choose approach” in the EU with ad hoc alliances rather than permanent alliances.

As for the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, which will be discussed by EU leaders at a December summit, the paper says, “Germany must use its new responsibility to help the CSDP regain new vigour. This can only be successful if such an initiative is coupled with the development of specific civil and military capabilities. But the member states have been half-hearted in their efforts to counter budget cuts by pooling, sharing and specialisation of capabilities and equipment.”

Noting that modern defense technologies are becoming “increasingly complex and costly,” it says that an “internationally competitive European defence industry can only be maintained in the long term by a broad consolidation of national industries within the European context. This is therefore in Germany’s interest.”

Asked about Germany’s interest in having a European army in the long term, Constanze Stelzenmüller, a policy analyst from the German Marshall Fund of the US, said that “the report does not talk about an EU army, which is a bit of a cliché and a bugbear but there is a need to Europeanize certain capabilities.”

Pointing to an “obsession with military hardware and pooling and sharing,” she said, “we should focus on the intelligence software of Europeans and updating the EU’s security strategy.

“A European threat and risk assessment would be a useful exercise,” she added.

According to the report, “just as important as the hardware of CSDP is the Europeanisation of its software: the development of common strategic foresight and planning capabilities as well as of joint training, doctrines and exercises.”

Markus Kaim argued that the EU’s battlegroups could have been deployed in crises and lamented the lack of political will to use them as a tool for crisis management or to foster interoperability.

“As long as we don’t see the political will in Berlin and other EU countries, I don’t buy the idea of a European army,” he said.

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