The EU , digitalization and the formation of an European MIC and high tech industry
In his new book „Welcome to the 21st Century“ Joscha Fischer complains about the technological gap between Europe and the USA and China in most disruptive high technologies as quantum computing, block chain technology, Artificial Intelligence,etc. There should be an European hi tech initiative and maybe even some sort of Military Industrial Complex that pushes the development of future hi tech industries as otherwise Europe would decline in the 21 st century in the global hierarchy to a backward continent with old industry museums.
Walter Kohl, son of Helmut Kohl in his new book „Which Future do we want?“ (Welche Zukunft wollen wir?) proposes an European Hi tech investment fund, not a state fund like the Norway, but a privately managed investment fund in cooperation with the state which absorbs all the hundreds of billion Euro of dead capital and zero interest rate savings of the German and European citizens which lie unused on their bank accounts and become victim of inflation and invests in start ups and new hi tech industries. Minister of Economics Altmeier published a Industry Strategy Study which wants to promote the mergers of national hi tech champions and support start ups while also proposing a sort of new industry policy (Industriepolitik). Small and medium sized companies as many start ups complained about Altmeier´s slogan „Size matters!“ as they perceive this as a focus only on the few already existing high tech giants. It remains to be seen if these proposals reach the level of political and economic decision makers, however the French and German government were not totally passive, but are engaging to build up national hi tech champions, also around the Military Industrial Complex (MIC)..
While NATO is once again used in the Defender 2020 maneuver to expand German structures to build up the core of an EU pillar, Germany on the other hand uses the EU to form its own military power role in competition with the USA and China in alliance with France. Merkel is still looking for a way for the militarily comparatively weak Germany out of the dilemma: In the current situation of the military superiority of the USA as open competition is out of the question. For the leading German financial oligarchs, however, there is no alternative in the medium term to technological independence from the United States, to digital sovereignty. It’s about the military world power position. The permanent military cooperation „PESCO“ already agreed in the EU also promotes the Franco-German armaments cooperation as European core,
Outside of Pesco, there are three German-French armaments projects that were agreed in a government statement between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in 2017: these are new generations of main battle tanks, artillery systems and fighter planes.
By 2035, new main battle tanks should be ready for production and replace the Leopard 2 ’of the Bundeswehr and the Leclerc tanks of the French Army. With this Main Ground Combat System ’(MGCS) it is important to develop a high-tech system in which robotics and weapons such as high-speed missiles play a crucial role’. The new weapon system is to become the standard armor in Europe in order to abolish the large number of tank types – 17 are mentioned. The managing director of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Frank Haun, expects according to Handelsblatt from April 26, 2018 in the next 25 to 30 years in Europe a need of 5,000 battle tanks with a value of 75 billion euros. …
A project study is in progress for the development of the new generation of artillery systems. The aim is to produce an artillery system that will replace the Bundeswehr mortars and multiple rocket launchers by 2040. KMW managing director Haun estimates the sales volume for artillery systems in Europe to 25 billion euros by 2050.
French, Rafale’s fighter planes and “Eurofighter’ will be out of service in 20 years. They should then be replaced by a new development, which is referred to as a „system of systems“. A manned or unmanned combat aircraft, combat drones, an armed swarm of drones, reconnaissance, transport and tank planes, satellites, AWACS machines and ships are to be brought together; systems in space, air, water, land and cyber space are connected. Therefore, the comprehensive name, Future Combat Air System ’(FCAS) was chosen. The Rafale manufacturer Dassault is supposed to produce the fighter plane. Airbus is responsible for the overall system, including planned drone swarms, satellites and ground stations. Airbus already tested the swarms of drones over the Baltic Sea in 2018. They are said to be armed and, under certain circumstances, to be deployed in the middle of the next decade, the FAZ reported on February 7, 2019. Drone swarms according to experts – will in future be decisive for the war. The United States and China are leading the way in this development.
Drones that are smaller than tennis balls or larger than one meter should also be used. They fly in groups of hundreds or thousands. The application of artificial intelligence serves to make the swarms act autonomously: as a spot reconnaissance to mark targets of attack; to lock a room with automatic monitoring of the lock and to use bombs or missiles against opponents and to infiltrate into enemy areas so that attacks in multiple waves can be carried out in Kamikaze mode.
The head of the Airbus armaments division Dirk Hoke explains the FCAS network as follows:, It is about creating a European cloud solution with standardization of military communication and connectivity. As a result, the information from all land, sea and air systems should converge, be analyzed in real time and evaluations should be played back depending on the situation. (…) We are talking about the most formative high-tech project in European defense over the next five decades ’. Hoke is not exaggerating. According to estimates from the industry, according to the Handelsblatt newspaper on November 26, 2018, the project will generate sales of 500 billion euros. This is five times the largest European armaments project to date – the „Eurofighter“. For FCAS development alone, costs of 80 to 100 billion euros are mentioned. If you bear in mind that Airbus and Dassault are currently generating between 12 and 13 billion euros in armaments annually, it becomes clear what enormous growth the armaments companies promise with the FCAS project.
The FCAS is suitable because of the desired real-time integration of all armed forces and space, to gain technological leadership worldwide. A concept study should be completed by early 2021. The Bundestag has already approved 30 million euros for this
What role does the EU play in this?
When President Ursula von der Leyen was elected EU Commission President, French President Emmanuel Macron had stipulated that France would have the Commissioner for the Internal Market, with the added responsibility for „Defense and Space“. Von der Leyen was unable to push through former French army minister Sylvie Goulard into the powerless EU Parliament. The dispute put the spotlight on Thierry Breton, who had been nominated by France and who then also received the office, only briefly, undeservingly: Breton and his office are crucial for the further development of the EU as a military and armaments alliance dominated by Germany and France in cooperation and competition to NATO.
Before we look at Breton’s role in Atos, let’s take a look at his path to the top of this company, without which it’s hard to understand. After graduating from high school, Thierry Breton went to one of the “grandes écoles”, where the French bourgeoisie draws on its cadres, the École supérieure d’électricité. After graduating there, he was given assignments in several government projects dealing with the role of electronics in the future of France.
In 1993 he became a „strategy director“ at Bull, one of the oldest French computer companies, which was in trouble after the state monopoly on nationalization in 1982 and the merger with the rest of the French computer industry. In order to better understand the problem, Breton was sent to the Institut des hautes études de défense nationale (IHEDN, Institute of High Studies in National Defense) for further training. The institute reports directly to the French Prime Minister and is used to train non-military personnel in arms issues.
When Bull was out of the danger zone, Breton stayed on the board and took over the next case: Thomson. As a catchment basin in the state monopolistic nationalization program from 1982, the electronics company had become a general store from television to military communication and had gone bankrupt. Breton was commissioned to head up the Thomson Group in 1997 with the renovation. He privatized the non-military part and merged the armaments-related part with the arms electronics divisions of Alcatel and Dassault to Thales. After further mergers, Thales is now one of the world’s largest cyber armaments companies. The main shareholders are around 25% the French state, and also 25% Dassault, i.e. the Dassault family as majority owners of the Dassault Group, which also manufactures military aircraft like Mirage and Rafale and the corresponding electronics. Cross-ownership with Airbus makes Dassault quite high in the French financial oligarchy.
In 2002 Thierry Breton was used to privatize France Telecom. In three years he managed to privatize the television market, establish a private internet market, and turn the state-owned France Telecom into mass layoffs to become the private television and internet company Orange. And that, as the Dassault-controlled newspaper “Le Figaro” commends, without neglecting state control over arms interests in telecommunications.
In its next stage, Breton’s political orientation within the French oligarchy becomes apparent.
President Chirac had chaos in his Prime Minister Raffarin’s government in 2005. There, the ministers de Villepin and Sarkozy were already arguing about the successor of Chirac, as an exponent of the wings of the French financial oligarchy, which wants to maintain its world power role. In order to maintain the world power role, one needs the EU and Germany to get out of the position of subordination to the USA. On the other hand, you run the risk of becoming a junior partner of the German financial oligarchy. With the euro, it was believed that the FRG was under control. Dominique de Villepin, as Secretary of State, had taken the opportunity to speak at the UN to position himself against the United States.
Sarkozy, on the other hand, had positioned itself against German dominance on the question of Franco-German economic cooperation. The conflict escalated into a mud fight. In 2005, Gaymard, Minister of Economics and Finance, stumbled upon a corruption affair, and a successor had to be quick and noiseless. The efficient „cost killer“, as Thierry Breton was called, was quickly appointed Super Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry for the short remainder of the Raffarin government. But he remained in the following government under de Villepin, who had initially prevailed against Sarkozy as Prime Minister. Two years later, in 2007, the FRG had left France with the agenda policy, Sarkozy was supposed to hold up, became president and Breton resigned. The Rothschild & Cie. employed him as a „Senior Adviser“ until his new assignment was completed: France needed an IT champion.
In 2008, Thierry Breton became head of Atos, a group of IT service providers and consultants that had grown into a billion dollar company with 50,000 employees in the growing IT outsourcing market. Rothschild, who is one of the leading banks for trading with entire companies (mergers & acquisitions) in France, helped grow Atos into a French IT champion. Siemens had problems with its chronically loss-making IT division. Siemens had given the hardware production to Fujitsu. Service providers, researchers, programmers and developers were combined in SIS (Siemens IT Solutions and Services) to somehow outsource SIS. Rothschild & Cie now brought Siemens CEO Kaeser together with Breton and left the negotiation diplomacy to his former employee Emmanuel Macron. Atos then took over SIS in the summer of 2011, Siemens became the largest shareholder in 15% of one of the largest IT service providers in Europe with 15%, Breton talked about an Airbus of IT and Macron was happy about the bonus and his rise to become a partner in the bank.
Breton geared Atos towards cloud computing and as a sales platform for „Software as a Service“. This brought him into contact with the market leader in this area, SAP. Breton’s Gaullist friends around de Villepin, who were concerned about the digital independence of French capital and the EU, maneuvered him into the steering committee of the ‚EU Cloud Partnership‘ of politics and industry in 2012. There he not only met acquaintances from Dassault, but, important for his future, also Jim Hagemann-Snabe, then co-boss of SAP. The strategy was discussed in the ‚EU Cloud Partnership‘ in 2012, and will now be specified in the pilot projects of the EU Cloud in spring 2020 with the project name Gaia-X.
With Siemens behind them, Breton and Atos felt strong enough to try to take over Bull in 2014. One wondered what Atos wants with a hardware manufacturer. Breton’s answer: France and Europe need a champion in quantum computing, cloud technology and cybersecurity.
Atos has now reached its goal with around 100,000 employees in these armament-relevant technologies, is European champion in IT services and on a par with Siemens and SAP. Now Breton was also politically active again. In 2015 he became president of the ANRT (Association Nationale de la Recherche et de la Technologie – National Association for Research and Technology), where, similar to Acatech in Germany, business and science come together. At the beginning of 2016, he gave interviews to the French business newspaper „Les Echos“ and the FAZ, in which he called for a European Defense Fund (EVF) with the aim of balancing arms expenditure and standardizing EU armaments. In the discussions that followed his suggestion, Breton met the then Defense Minister von der Leyen.
Emmanuel Macron has been President of the Republic since May 2017. His movement EM (not his initials, but an abbreviation for „en marche“, in German for ‚forward‘, as a party now ‚LaREM‘, ‚La République en marche‘) had succeeded in getting support from right-wing social democrats and Gaullist conservatives for the modernization of the industry location France. Bruno Le Maire, Macron’s Minister of Finance, Economy and Industry, has been a long-time employee of de Villepin.
Thierry Breton became armaments commissioner of the EU commission under von der Leyen
As the Internal Market Commissioner, Breton’s main task is to „standardize the common market“, that is, in the sense of the digital sovereignty of Europe required by Macron, specifically to promote cooperation between the FRG and France in the development of the EU cloud with the Gaia-X project. This is the project Breton launched in 2012 with Hagemann Snabe from SAP and with Dassault, which was decided by the Franco-German Ministerial Council in 2019 and was presented by Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier together with his colleague Bruno Le Maire at the digital summit last October.
Le Maire commented: „We want to build a secure and sovereign European data infrastructure“ means: The other Europeans should join the Franco-German project. Or as Airbus armaments chief Hoke commented: “It is about creating a European cloud solution with standardization of military communication and connectivity. As a result, the information from all land, sea and air systems should converge, be analyzed in real time and evaluations should be played back depending on the situation. (…) We are talking about the most formative high-tech project in European defense over the next five decades ”.
For the goal of the German and French financial oligarchy to get out of the dominance of the Americans and to become world power in competition with the USA and China, the currently leading parts of the German and French financial oligarchy are ready to take the risk to be dominated by the other.
The problem that Macron, Merkel, of whom Leyen and Breton have to solve is to catch up with the overwhelming military superiority of the United States, especially in the area of digital armaments.
Breton is expected to continue to drive arms concentration, particularly with the help of the European Defense Fund (EVF), which stems from his 2016 proposal. The new EU „Directorate General for Defense and Space“, which reports to Breton’s Internal Market Commissioner, will initially have access to the 13 billion euros that are available to the EVF for the unification of the EU defense industry. Breton: „Together with Ursula von der Leyen I will fight for a sovereign and stronger Europe in an increasingly uncertain world.“
Macron, as mentioned above, would have preferred Goulard on the post. Breton could then have continued to pull the strings in Franco-German armaments cooperation at Atos and ANRT. With Airbus Dassault, Thales and Atos, a network in the field of AI (artificial intelligence) is to be created in cooperation with Siemens and SAP. After the reorganization of Siemens with the concentration of the digitization-oriented company parts in Siemens AG, Roland Busch, the current No. 2, will probably take over the management there. He is on behalf of the major shareholder Siemens supervisory board chair at Atos. It is just as well for Breton’s tasks that the ex-SAP man Hagemann Snabe, whom he knows from Atos and the beginning of the EU cloud project, is now chief executive of Siemens.