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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

23 Nov 06. Germany does not expect to take a direct stake in aerospace group EADS via state bank KfW or other federal or state institutions, a senior government official told Reuters on Thursday. Germany has been thinking about ways to safeguard its influence in EADS should core shareholder DaimlerChrysler cut its 22.5 percent holding by 7.5 percent as Daimler has said it wants to do. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Berlin wants to keep German-French parity in the group. Her government is concerned that a reduction of DaimlerChrysler’s stake could diminish German influence at a time when Airbus is about to push through substantial cost cuts. Under a model being discussed by the government, DaimlerChrysler would retain its current voting rights. Details of the plan have yet to be fully agreed. (Source: FT.com)

28 Nov 06. Counting down to NATO’s Riga Summit. Heads of State and Government from the 26 NATO member countries will meet in the Latvian capital Riga, 28-29 November, to chart the way ahead for the Alliance’s operations, transformation and partnerships. NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan, the Alliance’s priority mission, as well as its missions and operations in Darfur, Iraq, Kosovo and the Mediterranean will be discussed. In addition, Heads of State and Government will focus on the upgrading of NATO’s military capabilities to ensure that they meet the challenges of today’s versatile security environment. Discussions will cover key elements of this transformation process such as strategic transport, the NATO Response Force, missile defence and other initiatives that are vital in adapting NATO’s military capabilities to new security threats. Broadening and strengthening partnerships will also be at the top of the Summit agenda. The Heads of State and Government are expected to reconfirm NATO’s open door policy and underscore their intention to deepen the Alliance’s relations with non-NATO countries building on the existing partnerships and through new programmes such as a potential NATO training initiative. Summit meetings provide periodic opportunities for Heads of State and Government of member countries to evaluate and provide strategic direction for Alliance activities. These are not regular meetings, but rather important junctures in the Alliance’s decision-making process.

24 Nov 06. The four-nation industrial partnership that builds the Eurofighter Typhoon is not “fit for purpose” in providing crucial support for the aircraft and needs to be restructured, according to the government. The Ministry of Defence has become frustrated by slow progress in negotiating with international partners over important upgrades to Europe’s next generation fighter jet, which has been beset by huge cost overruns and long delays. The Eurofighter is built by a consortium of defence manufacturers, made up of EADS, the Franco-German group, BAE Systems of the UK and Italy’s Finmeccanica. It is the highest profile example of European co-operation on weapons procurement, with Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy all buying large numbers of the aircraft, which cost about £65m each. Lord Drayson, the minister in charge of the £16bn-a-year military equipment budget, said on Thursday: “We need a reform of the four-nation partnership. This arrangement is not working as well as it should.”
He added: “The structure for support is not fit for purpose.” The minister insisted that he was extremely happy with the performance of the Typhoon, which is well-liked by air force pilots. However, the government wants to modify the aircraft to make it capable of ground attacks, crucial in combat zones such as Afghanistan, and feels that progress towards this has been tortuous. It is also concerned about the high price of spares. The depth of the MoD’s unhappiness emerged on Thursday after a report from the National Audit Office un- veiled a year-long delay in developing the Meteor air-to-air missile, which will be used on the Typhoon. Sir Peter

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