Because of political ambitions and claims to leadership of Berlin and Paris, the German-French project of the future FCAS combat aircraft may not take place. It is written in German Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ) by political scientists Claudia Major and Christian Mölling.
FCAS is among eight joint projects of France and Germany, the development of which was agreed back in 2017. As the authors of the article note, the difficulties arose from the very beginning: the parties did not trust each other and did not want any of them to gain economic advantage from the technologies developed within the project. In case of failure of the FCAS project, other projects will also be canceled because all of them are connected with each other.
This will cause huge damage, according to the authors of FAZ. Cancellation of projects will not only be a significant blow to German-French relations, but also a kind of declaration of bankruptcy of Europe as a leading force in the field of technology and innovation, as well as an independent and ambitious military and industrial player, the publication notes. Moreover, the idea of European sovereignty, independence, which stems from the cooperation of European countries, will be disproved.
Both sides complicate each other’s lives. For example, in France, the Ministry of Defense has almost complete freedom in the implementation of the project, but in Germany, the defense agency must coordinate its actions with the Bundestag and private players. Paris is particularly irritated by the role of the Bundestag, which slows down the whole process: as a result, the French side questions Berlin’s commitment to the project. France and Germany were aware of the difference in their approaches: nevertheless, they deliberately chose to cooperate because they wanted to send a political signal of European autonomy and European ambitions to the United States and Great Britain in the first place, the Major and Mölling wrote. And it means that if the project fails, its political costs will be more serious than the economic ones.
In France, the cancellation of the project may be perceived as a defeat of Emmanuelle Macron and his policy on European sovereignty. In addition, frustrated with Germany, Paris may start looking for partners outside the EU, and large projects with Germany will be abandoned. For Berlin, this development would also be a major setback, especially in light of the German presidency of the EU Council. At the same time, the FCAS could become a huge impetus for the Europeanization and consolidation of the European military-industrial sector.
Increased European cooperation in this area is a prerequisite for equal cooperation with the U.S. in the coming years and for reducing current dependence on Washington. But success can only await the project if Germany and France make compromises.