Sectoral Dialogue

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The German government is firmly committed to promoting the German arms industry. According to a "strategy paper" recently adopted by the cabinet, the government is planning to "increase investments" in the development of "defense-related technologies." It also wants to step up "political support" for German arms companies' business activities, which - if necessary - could be extended to "third countries" non-members of the EU or NATO, and could explicitly include the export of combat hardware. Bilateral agreements should also be concluded with "partner countries" to enhance the "opportunities for German companies" in "large-scale foreign [arms] procurement projects," according to the paper. These measures comply with the demands of German arms manufacturers, who, for quite some time, have been in "dialogue" with government representatives. One of the results of the "dialogue," announced by Vice-Chancellor and Minister for the Economy Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) is the government's support of defense contractors "to obtain access to the evolving markets of civilian security technologies" as well as, in their "cooperation efforts with developing and threshold countries."

Key National Technologies

According to a "strategy paper," recently adopted by the cabinet, the German government is explicitly committed to promoting the German arms industry and is planning to "increase investments" in the development of "defense-related technologies." "Security and independence through expertise in the field of critical key defense industrial technologies" is of "vital importance for Germany as a leading industrial nation." These "key technologies," whose "accessibility" - according to the cabinet - "must be assured in the interest of national security," should enhance Germany's war waging capability. In concrete terms, these are combined-arms warfare technologies in the context of "network-centric operations" of the army, air force, and navy, along with spy sensors, "armored platforms," "underwater units" and measures for protection of the combat troops. Even though the authors of the "strategy paper" espouse the "Europeanization" of the arms industry, because of the "significant contribution" German companies could provide, due to their excellent "competiveness," they also contend that "capacity domains" should be exclusively under national control. "In considering the foreign, European and defense policy interests within the framework of procurement decisions, the preservation of selected key defense industrial technologies must be taken into consideration."[1]

Export Policy Support

In addition, the government explicitly promises an "export policy support" to the German arms industry's business activities. The "strategy paper's" authors explicitly declare their intention to "support the defense industry in its activities, particularly within the EU, the NATO, and NATO-equivalent countries." This support could also "be extended to so-called third nations, if ... special foreign or security policy interests require the export of combat weapons," the paper continues. The conclusion of "bilateral departmental or government accords" were also announced, with unnamed "partner countries," to "be able to enhance the opportunities of German companies in large-scale foreign procurement projects."[2]

Successful Lobbying

The German government's "strategy paper" meets the demands of the arms producers. Since the beginning of this year, their lobbying organization, the Federation of German Security and Defense Industries (BDSV), has been officially engaged in a "structured dialog" with the ministry of defense. Both institutions recently made public the results of their consultations in a common declaration. In reference to arms exports, the declaration calls for German enterprises to have "access, in fair competition, to the international market" - with the support of a "sustainable, broad approval" of the customers, the contractees and the parliament, as well as "the media and the public."[3]

Driving Force of Innovation - IT

Research funding was a primary theme of the BDSV - defense ministry consultations. The discussion partners were unanimous that particularly Information Technology (IT) is the "driving force of innovation for the Bundeswehr's capability portfolio's development." "The focus must continue to be on networking the weapons and sensors systems, to be able to achieve network-centric operations." They also agreed "the reinforced use of modern, high-performance simulators, training apparatus, and simulation systems are needed to more quickly achieve individual proficiency and operational and behavioral confidence in tactical missions." In case cooperation with foreign arms manufacturers should become necessary, it should serve the "realization of [German] national interests," and in such a way as to be "advantageous to both the Bundeswehr and the German arms industry," the paper notes. "Arms cooperation should fundamentally part from the position of technological or economic strength; a one-way technological flow should be avoided."[4]

Evolving Markets

German Minister of the Economy and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) expressed views along the same lines as the German government and the Ministry of Defense. Since some time, Gabriel has been engaged in a "Sectoral Dialogue" with German arms manufacturers. Participating in this dialogue are active trade union representatives of the Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall), the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Federation of German Security and Defense Industries (BDSV), the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) and the German Shipbuilding and Ocean Industries Association (VSM). During one of its meetings In March, Gabriel promised to initiate an "innovation promotion program," to "support enterprises of the defense industries to gain access to the evolving civilian security technological markets." The minister of the economy also announced new "export initiatives" - to back up military technological "cooperation with developing and threshold countries."[5]

Dual Use

Following a "Sectoral Dialogue" session last fall, Gabriel spoke out in favor of "optimizing licensing procedures," regulating exports of so-called dual-use goods. "As an export oriented economic sector, in certain areas, the German machine and plant construction business sector is dependent on export licenses for dual-use goods. Those are goods, which could be used for civilian or for military purposes. The companies need reliability in their planning and rapid feedback on their applications."[6] Consequently, there is no more talk of the restrictive arms export policy, the minister of the economy had promised at the beginning of his term of office. Today, there is only the lavish promotion of the "innovative, efficient, and competitive national defense industry."[7]

[1], [2] Strategiepapier der Bundesregierung zur Stärkung der Verteidigungsindustrie in Deutschland. Berlin 2015.
[3] Bundesministerium der Verteidigung/Bundesverband der Deutschen Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsindustrie: Rüstungsdialog auf gutem Weg. Berlin 2015.
[4] Bundesministerium der Verteidigung/Bundesverband der Deutschen Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsindustrie: 1. Ergebnisbericht. Dialog zu Themen der Agenda Rüstung zwischen dem Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (BMVg) und dem Bundesverband der Deutschen Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsindustrie e.V. (BDSV). Berlin 2015.
[5] Positive Bilanz beim 2. Branchendialog "Verteidigungswirtschaft". www.bmwi.de 26.03.2015.
[6] Gabriel: Neue Clearingstelle für Dual-Use-Güter schafft Planungssicherheit und verkürzt Genehmigungszeiten. www.bmwi.de 16.10.2014.
[7] Strategiepapier der Bundesregierung zur Stärkung der Verteidigungsindustrie in Deutschland. Berlin 2015.