Security, responsibility and sovereignty – the key role of the German security and defence industry

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Germany is one of the largest and most important countries in the EU. Our neighbours and partners in Europe and in NATO expect us to assume responsibility, also in foreign and security policy.

Fundamental for security

When humanitarian disasters, crime, conflicts and crises put our security, freedom, prosperity and human rights at risk, we need to take steps to prevent or contain them in coordination with the international community – and if all else fails, with military means.

To be able to take on this responsibility and take appropriate action, there can be no doubt that we need capable security and armed forces, both civilian and military. To carry out their high-risk duties, these forces merit the best possible protection and the best possible equipment and training. This involves communication and reconnaissance technologies, protection and transport capabilities, and deployment and weapon systems.

The German security and defence industry develops and produces this defence equipment tailored to the specific needs of our country. Our security and armed forces would not be able to function without these technologies. Without these technologies our country would not be able to take any action in security policy. The businesses operating in this industry are therefore an essential component of preventive measures that further sovereign national security objectives. Their business operations are therefore just as politically and morally legitimate as the execution of the security policy actions themselves.

In this politically sensitive field, Germany needs to retain national capabilities in security technology in order to maintain its sovereign capacity to act. Supply shortages and dependencies on government export licences from third-party states should consequently be avoided, particularly for critical security resources. National capabilities will also secure a technological advantage for our security and military forces in the field.

In addition to equipping the national security and armed forces, a strong national security and defence industry also increases the capacity of our country to act in the field of foreign policy. The possibility of cooperating with other countries in defence and security technology opens up a much wider spectrum for a targeted foreign and security policy with allies. Renouncing a national security and defence industry would automatically curtail Germany’s room for manoeuvre in foreign policy.

Fundamental for the economy

The security and defence industry accounted for approximately 220,000 jobs in Germany in 2011. The value of produced goods in the same year amounted to 22.6 billion euros, with 44 percent being exported.

The importance of the security and defence industry for Germany’s economy stretches far beyond the employment and production figures of the industry itself. With an internal R&D ratio of 19.1 percent, the security and defence industry is one of the most innovative industries in Germany. The security and defence industry triggers momentum and spill-over effects in other industries, making it an engine of innovation for German industry. It contributes decisively to the technological leadership of Germany in the world. The security and defence industry is therefore an important economic factor for Germany as a business location and for its future capabilities.

In short, the German security and defence industry is a key strategic industry both for the country’s security and for its economy.

Together with its industry and trade associations, the BDI is working to set the right environment for Germany to retain and further develop its capabilities in security technology.