France, German and Spain agree on €100bn fighter jet plan

Photo: AP

France, Germany and Spain have resolved most of their differences and have agreed to push forward a key defense project valued at least 100 billion euros, Reuters reported citing high-level officials, involved in the talks. The project is aimed at producing European fighter jet which will boost the defense capacity of the European Union. The new plane will replace the existing Rafale and Eurofighters. The three countries hope to solve their differences by mid-May, German defense officials elaborated.

The three nations are trying to end disputes over access to know-how, or intellectual property rights (IPR), after arms firms struck a deal on industrial workshare. Pressure for a quick deal is mounting ahead of a September election in Germany. Disagreements over IPRs meant the countries missed an end-April deadline previously set by Germany and France to broker a deal that would secure the next phase in Europe's biggest defense project.

Participants will put together a list of IPRs by mid-May, spelling out what can be shared by all partners and what must be kept confidential for specific companies, the source said.

France's Dassault Aviation, Airbus and Indra - the latter two representing Germany and Spain respectively - are involved in the scheme to start replacing French Rafale and German and Spanish Eurofighters from 2040. The next step of development is expected to cost 2.5 billion euros in total. Two other sources said an agreement was close but more discussions were needed, with IPRs the biggest remaining hurdle. A French government source said there was no deal yet.

Even if a final agreement is reached by mid-May, Berlin may not have time to secure the approval of Germany's powerful parliamentary budget committee ahead of September's federal election. Approval is needed before funds can be spent. Typically that process takes several months but the last realistic date at which the budget committee can make a decision is 24 June.

Similar articles