07 May 03. Following close on the heels of the successful choice of the EuroProp solution for the A400M project, (See BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.5 ISSUE 6
May 6th 2003, AIRBUS CHOOSES EUROPEAN SOLUTION FOR A400M), the project hit another pitfall when Germany’s approval of its purchase of Airbus A400M military transport planes encountered another delay on Wednesday when opposition parties moved to postpone voting on the order.
Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey have signed up to the €17bn, 180-plane project. Germany, with 60 planes costing €8.3bn, is the largest buyer, and its delays have irked the nation’s partners in the deal. The much delayed German order was due to be given final approval this week with the last deliberations of parliament’s budgetary committee. However, opposition parties said they would bring a motion to discuss “unresolved issues” later this month.
The suggested delay is only two weeks, but it could postpone Germany’s final approval until after the Belgian general election on May 18. A new Belgian government could review its participation. Portugal pulled out of the project in February after a change of government, reducing the purchasing group to seven. The German government has argued that further delays would add to uncertainty surrounding the project.
Germany’s opposition parties have criticized the project’s financing and say they should not be pressured into making a hasty decision about such a large military procurement.
The budget committee convened on Wednesday without agreement and was due to sit again for a special session on 4 Thursday evening. The budget expert of the conservatives, Dietrich Austermann, said he would press for a delay.
Defense Minister Peter Struck told Reuters he remained confident the committee would reach a final decision on Thursday. The A400M, seen as crucial to European plans for a rapid reaction force, will be built by a multinational consortium, Airbus Military, which is led by EADS (Paris:EAD.PA – News; XETRA:EAD.DE – News) and BAE Systems Plc (London:BA.L – News).