Concerted Attack

Industry on the Offensive over Defense

Defense action press
Puma tanks in the desert.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German arms industry is facing unprecedented uncertainty due to twin government policies that both limit exports and domestic orders.

  • Facts


    • Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel wants to limit military exports to non-NATO countries.
    • Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said that the Bundeswehr only needs to procure limited key technologies.
    • The Economic Council, a business association with ties to the governing CDU, has produced a paper calling for a coherent arms policy from the government.
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It’s not something that happens often: business and labor unions working together. The split between capital and labor lives on today, something made obvious by the ongoing wage conflicts at Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa. In the defense industry, however, both sides are cooperating, united by their common opponent: the German federal government.

The current right-left coalition has embarked on a new defense policy, spearheaded by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Mr. Gabriel, who is the head of the center-left Social Democrats has set about limiting the export of tanks, small arms or surveillance technology to countries outside of the European Union or NATO.

Ms. von der Leyen, a member of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats, meanwhile, wants to increasingly free the German army or Bundeswehr from being limited to domestic arms manufacturers. She is therefore fighting against a broad definition of key technologies, those which are deemed so vital to national security that they can only be produced by the German defense industry.

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