April 26, 2018 / 3:49 PM / a year ago

AIRSHOW-Arms maker Diehl calls for harmonised export rules in Europe

BERLIN, April 26 (Reuters) - German arms maker Diehl called for harmonised export rules in Europe, as German companies seek to take advantage of greater worldwide spending on defence programmes.

Diehl, which focuses on missiles and ammunition, said if not European-wide standards, then there should at least be joint export rules between France and Germany, which are planning closer cooperation, such as on a future combat air system centred around a new fighter jet.

“As a minimum, if you have joint projects, then you should say from the start how you want to want to approach exports of the product,” Carl Guenther, head of Diehl Defence told journalists at the Berlin air show on Thursday.

Germany imposes very tight rules on arms exports, with the right to approve them vested in a committee of senior ministers. The current conservative-Social Democrat government has adopted even more restrictive rules, banning the export of weapons to countries involved in war in Yemen.

Like rivals, Diehl currently benefits from increased spending on defence, with the market for military products boosted by discussion among NATO countries on reaching the 2 percent of GDP spending target.

Guenther said though that the German government needed to do more to foster acceptance of the German army and its partners on missions.

“And we must also have acceptance of the necessity of a German weaponry industry,” he said, saying it was important for German troops to be supplied with German equipment.

MTU Aero Engines’ Chief Programme Officer Michael Schreyoegg also said the programme offered a chance to boost the European defence supply chain, though repeated comments that politicians needed to move fast to determine the requirements so that the companies could get to work on the technology.

“We will of course work with others and we do,” Diehl’s Guenther said as he unveiled a partnership with Boeing for a precision-guided weapon.

“But we think we need the lead in certain things that are important to us,” he said.

Attitudes towards the army are complicated in Germany, where shame felt at professional soldiers’ crimes in World War Two is tempered by pride some feel in the dovish posture of the post-war Federal Republic, whose army was placed under strict parliamentary control to make it better able to resist illegal or immoral orders.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by David Evans

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