Overcapacity stifles Europe’s defence industry
Mr Obama, of course, has addressed the issue of racism before, especially in his speeches and writings before he became president.
During his 2008 campaign, amid scrutiny of provocative statements by the pastor of a black church Mr Obama had attended, he said: “The issue of racism cannot be ignored.”
Since coming to office, Mr Obama has disappointed some with cautious, impersonal responses to incidents that African Americans felt showed their ongoing persecution.
But he got very personal in addressing the case of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman, saying Martin “could have been me 35 years ago.”
And before last week’s slaugh- PARIS — Europe’s politicians need to put aside national pride and security sensitivities and let the defence industry tackle the overcapacity that has led to competing production of tanks and fighter jets, executives and EU officials say.
The industry’s outlook is brightening, helped by a stronger economy, increased military spending in other regions driven by tensions in Ukraine, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
France’s Dassault, for example, reached deals this year to sell fighter jets to Egypt and Qatar and hopes to conclude a sale to India soon, compensating for falling demand at home.
But Europe has failed to follow the example of the United States, where the defence industry became more efficient after a downturn caused by the end of NATO combat operations in Afghanistan and Western spending cuts.
Efforts by European Union policymakers and industrialists to forge a single European defence market have often been obstructed by individual EU governments which jealously protect their national defence industries and jobs, an issue likely to be discussed at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday to consider how to strengthen the industry.
“A strong European defence market and industrial base can only be achieved with a move away from the existing focus on national markets,” the European Commission said in a report prepared for the summit.
“Europe can no longer afford the inefficiencies of duplication and overcapacity that our existing fragmented market entails.”
In the fighter jet market, three European aircraft - the Rafale, the Eurofighter, built by Airbus Group, Finmeccanica and BAE Systems, and Gripen, made by Sweden’s Saab - compete for business.
There are 11 different armored vehicle programs, shipyards in most countries and makers of submarines in Britain, France and Germany.
“In the last couple of years in the United States, they have done tremendous reshuffling of their capacity, closing down factories and adopting more for less... Some of that needs to happen in Europe as well,” Hakan Buskhe, Saab’s chief executive, told Reuters at the Paris ter in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the president had begun to identify more closely and personally with the civil rights cause.
A high point for supporters came in March when Mr Obama attended a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of a brutally repressed civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.
“Our march is not yet over,” he declared.
Mr Obama returned to this theme, and to his own experiences of race and identity as the son of an Air Show last week.
The European defence market has been shrinking, meaning there is less business to go round. NATO says spending on defence by its 26 European members slipped to about $250 billion in 2014 from $275 billion in 2010.
Slower business at home has forced many defence firms to look outside Europe for sales although Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last year has spurred some European countries to increase defence spending and Poland is engaged in a major military upgrade.
Failed merger Previous attempts to reshape Europe’s defence absent Kenyan father and a white American mother, in the interview with Maron.
The president described how growing up, he had to learn “I don’t have to be one way to be both an African American but also somebody who affirms the white side of my family.”
But now the evolution he wants to see is in broader society.
“And so what I tried to describe in the Selma speech that I gave... was a notion that progress is real and we have to take hope from that industry have often failed as governments hold shares in a number of leading European defence companies, enabling them to influence management, or use golden shares to stop unwelcome takeovers.
The most ambitious effort to reshape Europe’s defence landscape, a planned $45 billion merger of EADS, now Airbus Group, and Britain’s BAE Systems was abandoned in 2012 in the face of opposition from Germany which doubted the deal’s industrial logic.
The European Commission adopted a law in 2009 to try to level the playing field for companies competing for defence contracts and to stop European governments favoring firms in their own countries. But the Commission says progress, but what is also real is that the march isn’t over and the work is not yet completed,” he said.
“And then our job is to try, in very concrete ways, to figure out what more can we do.”
Public revulsion at the suppression of the Selma march led to the Voting Rights Act, a victory in the civil rights struggle that eventually made possible Mr Obama’s election to the White House.
“If we made as much progress over the next 10 years as we have over the last 50, things would be better,” he said. “And that’s within our grasp.” Meanwhile, three Republican presidential candidates say they are donating to charity the contributions they received from the leader of a white supremacist group mentioned by the alleged perpetrator of last week’s massacre at a historic black church in Charleston.
White House hopeful Senator Ted Cruz will return the $8 500 in donations he has received since 2012 from Earl Holt III, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a Cruz aide told The Guardian on Sunday.
The group is listed as racist and extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which tracks US hate groups. Holt has given dozens of times to numerous candidates in recent years, including members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, totalling at least $56 000, according to figures compiled by the Centre for Responsive Politics.
Aside from Mr Cruz, two other presidential candidates have received donations from Holt: Senator Rand Paul got $1 750, and former senator Rick Santorum received $1 500, apparently during his previous presidential campaign.
“Rather than put more money back in the pockets of such an individual, my 2012 campaign committee will be donating the amount of his past donations to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to support the victims of this tragedy,” Santorum said on Monday in a statement.
“I abhor the sentiments Mr Holt has expressed. These statements and sentiments are unacceptable,” Mr Santorum added. — AFP governments are still failing to apply the law in some cases.
The EU is working to enforce the law on defence procurement, to make it easier for small defence firms to trade across EU borders and to promote cooperation among European countries on defence projects, such as a planned European drone.
In the absence of a transforming defence merger, European companies have made some divestments during the downturn.
Airbus Group unveiled plans last year to sell half a dozen businesses with combined annual revenues of around 2 billion euros, simplifying its Defence and Space division to focus on warplanes, missiles, launchers and satellites.
Deep restructuring Restructuring has gone much deeper in the United States, the world’s largest defence market.
US arms makers went through a massive consolidation in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War, with dozens of smaller companies joining forces and ultimately creating a handful of large prime contractors less dependent on any one sector.
Overcapacity in the ground vehicle market forced plant closures and layoffs when the US military began withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and years of budget cuts triggered streamlining across the rest of the defence sector.
US officials are now concerned about the dwindling number of second- and third-tier suppliers in some areas, such as the ground vehicle and aircraft carrier business, worried that a thin supply chain makes companies vulnerable to interruptions in production.
Companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed, Boeing and others are dramatically stepping up their efforts to expand international sales, with a key focus on Asia and the Middle East.
Tensions in the South China Sea have also opened up new markets for US weapons makers, including Vietnam, where Washington has already relaxed its arms embargo to allow limited weapons sales. — Reuters
People join in prayer during Sunday service outside the emanuel African Methodist episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday.
Visitors look at a Dassault Rafale M fighter during the public days of the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris on Saturday.