Defence industry should not be boxed into an ideological corner

At the 51st Munich Security Conference, BDI President Grillo emphasised the importance of the national defence industry for the security of Germany.

„In view of the globally increasing security threats, a strong defence industry is imperative for the Federal Republic of Germany. Retaining the necessary key technological capabilities is of existential importance for our sovereign ability to act in security policy,” said Grillo. Talking about the highly charged debate we have witnessed recently, he warned against boxing the defence industry in a corner for ideological reasons. „Integration in international value chains is a basic prerequisite for our capability to cooperate in security policy – and not only in Europe. Our allies depend on reliable German supplies. If we are no longer able to maintain supply levels for political reasons, the good reputation of our industry as a reliable partner will be put at risk. Germany going it alone on this issue will only lead to a loss of technological sovereignty, which is counter to the interests of both national security policy and national industrial policy,” said Grillo. The industry is currently feeling the strain of austerity measures in Europe, which is putting thousands of jobs in danger.

The industry is prepared to make its contribution to an active formulation of national security policy. While it is not „the responsibility of businesses to define German security policy, it is the responsibility of political, economic and social forces to articulate their interests and get involved. And that’s exactly what we’re doing,” added BDI President Grillo.

Matthias Machnig, state secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), and Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall and president of the Federation of German Security and Defence Industries (BDSV), gave talks on the role of industry in security policy. This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Sven Afhüppe, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt. Panellists included Claus Günther, CEO of Diehl Defence Holding and chairman of the BDI Defence Committee; Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, state secretary at the Federal Chancellery and federal government commissioner for the Federal Intelligence Services; Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of Airbus Defence & Space and president of the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI ); and Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

The traditional opening event of the BDI and the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) for the 51st Munich Security Conference on 6 February in Munich brought together over 200 representatives from business, science and politics. The objective was to strengthen the public and political dialogue on the industrial policy dimension of security by exploring the latest developments in security policy and their impact on German industry.