Europe must spend more wisely by consolidating weapons systems, Merkel says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen ahead of the annual summer news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Europe must work over coming years and decades to harmonize the many different weapons systems its armed forces deploy, both to use military budgets more efficiently and strengthen the continent’s military contractors, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

“We have 178 weapons systems in Europe and the Americans have less than 50,” she said. “So you can see from that how inefficiently our money is being spent. So we have agreed to unify systems over coming years and decades and have decided to develop a common European fighter.”

Giving the analogy of how Airbus had risen out of European competition to become a rival to U.S. airliner manufacturers, she said harmonized defense spending would have a similar impact on European defense contractors.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin