address by the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Technology
Dr Werner Müller
for German and European aviation"
29 January 2001
behalf of the Federal Government I welcome you most cordially to
the European Union's fourth Aerospace Research Conference here in
It is a good sign that this Conference is taking place here in Hamburg.
I would like immediately to make clear before I begin that I am
not going to talk about the "running sore" that is the
legal battle concerning the extension of the Airbus site, but I
hope that it will soon be healed.
The Commission is giving Germany a particularly high rating by holding
this Aerospace Research Conference here in Germany.
This is also an acknowledgement of the part played by Germany in
the process of Europeanising the aerospace industry.
You have chosen a worthy conference venue in Hamburg, a city which,
together with Seattle and Toulouse, is one of the three major centres
in the world where civil aircraft are built.
By the way, 63 years ago, or more specifically on 29.01.1938, a
chemist called Paul Schlack working for the Agfa company in Berlin
succeeded in inventing a new chemical fibre that later came to be
known as Perlon.
This high-strength chemical fibre enabled the development of composite
materials, without which present-day planemaking is unimaginable.
As early as 1976 the Federal Government began to nurture and support
the development of carbon-fibre technology in planemaking via research
Starting with rudder assemblies and continuing via CFRP wings in
the 1995-98 research programme, we are now at the stage, in the
current national programme, of working on the fundamentals of carbon-fibre
It was, and still is, important to us in Europe to be given a competitive
springboard for such an innovative branch of industry as aerospace,
with its high-value jobs and high value-added products.
The national support for research and development was put to good
use - more particularly in developing the Airbus and Ariane families.
Airbus and Ariane were able to achieve their commercial successes
via technological innovations.
Examples of this are crossing the Atlantic with only two engines,
two-man aircraft cockpits and two-satellite launchers (1)
and the great reliability of the Ariane space transport systems.
These favourable starting positions should be successfully built
upon in technological and commercial terms.
The European aerospace industry is a "global player".
We know our strengths and would like to share our vision with yet
This also means that trans-Atlantic partnerships are very welcome.
Thus, for example, a great many of the suppliers for the new super
jumbo aircraft the A380 are from the USA.
Aerospace is a key industry for the US Government which, moreover,
supports it vigorously.
European policy must find a response to that situation.
That response cannot and will not involve any race to subsidise,
any ring fencing or any arrangements.
As hitherto, it will be a response embracing the principles of competition,
performance and innovation.
Here, together with the German aircraft industry, and like the EU
Commission, but also like our partners in Europe, the Federal Government
sets great store by three decisive factors in the European aircraft
industry's further development:
Providing integrated, stand-alone and competitive company structures;
Assigning a leading part to technology in the aerospace industry;
Coordinating national and European support for research.
EADS is in the process of consolidating its structures and becoming
an economically stable company that is independent of the State.
Thus, following the merger of Boeing and McDonell-Douglas planemaking
in Europe is also on the right track, but there is still some way
The amalgamation of equipment suppliers General Electric and Honeywell
is a new challenge.
How will their European counterparts react to this?
I am quite aware that merging or cooperating in this area will become
considerably more difficult.
However hard it may seem, closer cooperation will be unavoidable
if the market share of the European equipment manufacturers is to
Each case of foot dragging by ourselves gives a competitive advantage
to non-European companies.
Our small and medium-sized businesses are not unjustifiably felt
to be highly flexible.
I am confident that they will also live up to this.
However, I would like to call upon all European small and medium-sized
industries to bear global threats and opportunities in mind with
open-mindedness, a willingness to compromise and far-sightedness.
The large number of equipment suppliers in Europe provides adequate
scope for improving the economic power and competitiveness of these.
It would be nice if we were able to make fundamental progress here
in Europe as early as this year.
Where I can give those businesses political support I will do so
in order to make sensible mergers easier, as in the case of the
However, the willingness of those companies is a prime factor here.
Europe's governments will have to continue to monitor and support
this branch of industry to ensure that there are comparable conditions
of competition in the various countries.
is and will continue to be technology intensive and thus a cost-
intensive part of industry.
Since 1995 the Federal Government, together with the industry and
the Federal States earmarked roughly DEM 2.5 billion for national
technological support programmes, but less than one half of this
is provided from the public purse.
Both the support received and its results have centred on fuselage
technology, the passenger and on-board system and also the wing's
high-lift systems, including its modular electronic control.
The aircraft, helicopter and propulsion projects are also largely
centred on, above all, flight safety, noise reduction and pollutant
Our aim is to identify ways, through research, of being able to
reduce kerosene consumption by 25-50% and CO2 emissions by the same
amount by 2010.
Efforts are even being made to reduce nitrogen oxides by 85% as
compared with their 1995 level.
At the same time aerospace is also at the cutting edge in applying
innovations to products and processes.
I would merely like to single out, as being typical of this, laser-beam
welding of aluminium fuselage skins that was developed under the
aircraft research programme and, in 1999, was awarded the innovation
prize by the German business community.
As I already said in the introduction, Airbus has achieved its commercial
success through technological leadership.
This is only made possible by forward-looking ideas, accompanied
by mastering and combining various sophisticated technologies.
In order to take the technological lead in Europe I expect that
all of the results of the national and European research programmes
will be examined carefully and will begin to flow into the development
of the A 380s as of now.
This can also justify risk-sharing via the loan to be granted by
the Federal Government and the other European Governments.
The expected doubling of Airbus jobs in Germany and Europe will
be yet another feather in the caps of both sides.
It is not impossible that 4000 jobs in Hamburg are linked solely
with the A 380.
of European strengths
is a European project with a broad economic impact extending way
beyond the countries that are partners in Airbus.
I hope that further European countries will grasp the opportunity
offered by the A 380 and pick up jobs from the 40% of the work still
to be shared out.
The aerospace industry can only survive global competition as a
The national research programmes can help here.
However, the way must be paved for a commitment by the European
Union that has financial muscle and is effective in industrial policy
Mr Busquin has already prepared the ground well with his Group of
The EU support must be given a firm place, with reliable continuity,
within the aerospace research network.
I consider a corresponding budget within the sixth framework programme
to be a suitable continuation of the key precursor programme, entitled
"New prospects for aerospace".
I will work vigorously towards this together with my colleagues
in the other Member States.
On the way, however, we should not forget to centre the research
on the important requirements as regards quiet, low-pollution, safe
and economical air travel.
These requirements cannot be met without cost, but sustainable developments
give rise to not only competitive advantages but also social acceptance.
The EU, Federal and State support is an attractive offer to regional,
national and European competence networks.
Finally, being successful means to produce superior innovative ideas
within a competitive partnership.
The Commission and the European Governments have provided an excellent
financial basis for aerospace.
The market situation is currently very good and advance orders covering
several years have been received.
Seize this opportunity.
I am convinced that, in concert with science and industry, national
governments and the European Union we will also be able to face
the new challenges.
I hope that you will hear interesting specialist speeches, make
many new contacts and enjoy personal success over the next few days
here in Hamburg.
Two satellites in one rocket (since Ariane 4). Previously only one
was possible. (back to the text)