Senior Merkel ally calls for common European arms export rules
BERLIN (Reuters) - One of Chancellor Angela Merkel's main allies in parliament has called for Europe to adopt common arms export regulations, saying there would be an increasing number of European defense companies in future.
Volker Kauder, the floor leader of Merkel's conservatives in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, said the latest conflicts showed military capabilities were needed even in the 21st century to preserve international law and protect human rights.
"We therefore need to preserve key areas of defense engineering in Germany but there aren't enough orders from Germany's armed forces to ensure that, so more and more European defense firms will emerge, especially German-French ones," he said in an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
"I think that's also logical and in this context export regulations for arms must also be harmonized at a European level," he added.
Kauder said the German Economy Ministry needed to take part in this. Sigmar Gabriel, the economy minister, recently unveiled a more restrictive policy on arms exports to sensitive regions.
Kauder said while the discussion would not be easy, given that there are different views in Europe, it was necessary.
"I can't imagine European armies only buying their weapons from America or elsewhere in future," he added.
Kauder said creating a joint defense industry could help France deal with some of its economic problems, adding that the country "definitely needs functioning industry".
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Powell)