Discours : séminaire sur l’espace aérien européen et l’industrie de défense

The choice of Poland ; Europe of armaments

Mr Thomas Enders, CEO of the Airbus Group,
Mr Janusz Onyszkiewicz, former minister of defence, Chairman of the Euro-Atlantic Association,
Mr Sławomir Maiman, Chairman of the Polish Foreign Investment Agency,
Mr Guillaume Faury, CEO of airbus Helicopters,
Mr Rolf Nikel, ambassador of Germany,
Mr Agustin Nunez Martinez, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain
Mr Maciej Witucki, Chairman of the French-Polish Chamber of Commerce,
Mr Michael Kern Witucki, Chairman of the German-Polish Chamber of Commerce,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am happy to welcome you all, here, in the very room where a few days ago the highest authorities of Poland, the diplomatic corps and numerous French and Polish citizen signed the book condolences after a series of barbarian attacks on our free press, on our police, on our Jewish community, in a word on our State and on our values.

Allow me to once again express my deepest gratitude to all of them for their support in such testing times. Many countries stood on our side, giving Sunday’s demonstrations of national unity a worldwide resonance.

These tragic events highlight the resilience of threats on our security, whatever the form they may take, and challenge us to devise and improve the tools to face them. For history has taught not to narrow down the range of scenarios and to always be prepared to strategic surprise, in order to fend it off.

Answers are manifold, but one of them consists definitely in remaining on the cutting edge of technology. Which brings us to today’s topic.

On the 12th of November, after 10 years of journey through space, the European probe Rosetta settled down on the Tchouryoumov-Guerasimenko comet. Poland, which had taken part in this European project, has produced one of the most crucial and technologically advanced equipment.

As for me, this is clear evidence of the technical excellence, as well as testimony of the confidence and the esteem won by Polish researchers and engineers by the European Space Agency.

Poland has today earned a respected place in the Europe of space. It could also have it in the Europe of armament.

President Hollande recently reminded us that Europe was at a crossroad. He asked for a “genuine European defence industry (…), to ensure the European autonomy within the frame of its alliances”. The European Council of December 2013 decided as well to “exercise more responsibilities, complementary with NATO”, by increasing their capabilities and strengthening the European defence industry.

Fortunately, European defence industrials did not wait to build the Europe of armaments. In the 90’s, defence industries started a national consolidation. Then, in 2000, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, United Kingdom and Sweden signed a letter of intent (LoI) on restructuring the European defence industry. Therefore, European industrials strengthened themselves with international joint ventures. The major act was the concentration of major aeronautical constructors in order to form EADS consortium, which became Airbus Group in 2014.

Nowadays, no European country can afford to develop individually its defence industry. Like other countries before it, Poland has started its defence industry consolidation. It has also chosen partnerships with foreign industry for the modernisation programme of its armed forces.
The crux of the matter does not, however, lie, here, in a commercial beauty contest between armament companies backed by States which are allies of Poland. Boiled down to the fundamentals, the issue consists in whether Poland, as one of the EU countries which take defence and security most seriously, wishes to become a fully-fledged stakeholder in the ongoing European process. Whether, or not, the Polish armament industry will consolidate within the European Defence Industry.

They have been some hints regarding Poland’s intentions. In February 2014, during a Weimar summit conference in Krakow on the future of industry, President Bronisław Komorowski called for “cooperation between European armament industries, in the broader frame of CSDP”. The Polish White Paper of 2013, as well as the National Security Strategy, consider the armament industrial potential as a “key element for State security and defence”, calling for it to be consolidated and competitive.

While ultimately all decisions pertain to the Polish national sovereignty, the partners of Poland have a legitimate interest in understanding how Poland envisages its future partnerships.

Allow me now to share the French experience and our vision of the potential of the Europe of armaments.

Through mergers and acquisitions, the French armament industry has benefited from synergies and economies of scale, prompting, thanks to increased productivity, innovation and growth. Dwelling on their competitive advantages, our companies have successfully entered into export markets.

But furthermore, I would like to emphasize, that a very efficient model has gradually emerged from a virtuous circle of interaction between States and companies.

How can we define it ?

The first element is a genuine industrial partnership between the stakeholders of this European integration. This partnership encompasses transfer of technology, including the most sensitive elements. Including the maintenance at the hands of the owner of the armament. In other words, this model does not rely on a dominant partner with subcontractors, but consists in an association of equals.

Because innovation is crucial, the second key element is R&D, again shared between partners. This is at the heart of today’s event.

The third key element is the capability of exporting, as no European country can any more sustain its armament industry through its sole domestic market. This depends not only on the quality of equipment and its performances during operations, but also, as France sees it, on unrestricted export licences, licences which are not contingent upon an authorization from another country.

But we often forget about the fourth element, which is the capability to use our armament when or where we need to, once again independently of authorizations or second keys from a foreign country. Without the complete set of tools allowing, for example, an adequate preparation of the mission, without the complete autonomy of use, no country can ensure that it will be able to use its armament in every contingency. And some such contingencies may not, when push comes to shove, allow leeway for lengthy consultation or authorisation.

These four points summarise the road we envision in building the Europe of armament.

It is with that method, with that spirit that great European companies were created. Airbus is one of them, the unquestioned leader of European aeronautics and space industry.

If French, German, Spanish and British armament industries are able to work successfully together, the same approach is also natural with Polish armament industries.

With the modernization of its armed forces, Poland is today at a crossroad. The country has to choose not only between this or that equipment, but more importantly between joining the Europe of armaments and a separate development. The future decisions taken by Poland could certainly strengthen the European defence industry for many decades to come.

To conclude, Donald Tusk’s recent interview in the Financial Times fits perfectly in this reflexion about our common European destiny : “I am a true believer in Europe, not as a euro-enthusiast, not as a naïve federalist, but because I am a Polish patriot”. One could not say it in a clearer, more convincing way.

I thank you for your attention.

Dernière modification : 20/01/2015

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