BERLIN May 24 Germany's national security
council declined two thirds of applications for arms export
licences at its most recent sitting three weeks ago, German news
weekly Spiegel said on Saturday.
The economy ministry had prevented a licence application to
export to Saudi Arabia 500 million euros worth of sight devices
for armoured personnel carrier guns from even being discussed in
the council, it said.
Spiegel said the sights were made by a unit of Airbus.
A spokesman for Airbus said, "we have no information
about any government decision. We hope however for a swift and
An economy ministry spokesman declined to comment on the
Spiegel report and said all aspects of the security council's
meetings were confidential.
According to the report, the government risks demands for
compensation by the affected firms. Projects in late stages were
among those declined.
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat
(SPD), has promised a much more cautious approach to licensing
arms exports, unnerving the sizeable defence industry and
signalling a change in approach from the previous coalition
The ministry was run until December 2013 by the Free
Democrats (FDP), Chancellor Angela Merkel's previous coalition
partners, before the SPD.
German arms exports have come under scrutiny in recent years
because of the increasing sums involved and because a greater
number of arms are heading to non-European Union or NATO
partners, and potentially unstable regions.
Earlier this month German media reported Gabriel wanted to
block two deals to sell arms to Qatar and Saudi Arabia worth
billions of euros.
Germany's national security council, which includes Merkel
and the ministers of economy, defence, development and foreign
affairs, has to approve licences.
New export limits could cause lasting damage to the German
defence industry, the head of the Airbus AIR.PA Defence and
Space division, Bernhard Gerwert warned recently.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute, Germany was the world's third largest arms exporter
from 2008-2012, behind the United States and Russia.
(Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt,
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson)