Star wars: France’s defeat against Germany

Elena Karaeva

They tried to hide the information, but they did not succeed too – from the communiqué signed by the economic ministries of the two countries, it is clear that Berlin intends to force Paris to transfer the production of new engines for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle from Normandy to Baden-Württemberg. What does this mean and why the decision is being made right now, says journalist Elena Karaeva.

Seven nannies have a child without an eye, the accuracy of this saying is illustrated by the development of a new heavy rocket, Ariane 6, which has been under way for almost 10 years by the European Space Agency (ESA). And so far not too successful.

Despite the bravura reports about successful tests – though not of the aircraft itself, but only of one of its engines, the 27 countries that make up ESA are unable to reach an elementary consensus on where, how and in what direction to develop the space industry.

Everyone wants to get their piece of the pie, trying not to pay or paying the minimum. Germany was the first to be indignant, sending an angry letter to Brussels back in the spring, in which it questioned both the industry’s strategy and tactics – that is, project financing. In the letter, German experts argued that European aeronautics, if urgent measures are not taken, would be crushed in the competition by both Russia and the United States.

Brussels shook their heads in puzzlement and asked Berlin to solve such problems directly with Paris (France and Germany are the main sponsors of ESA).

And Berlin solved the problem. As usual, in their favor, setting as a condition for increasing funding for the new heavy rocket “Ariane 6” the transfer of hardly the most important component – the production of the Vinci engine – from Norman Vernon to Lampoldshausen, Baden-Württemberg.

And the fact that the “engine” was created in France and became a triumph of design thought for the country’s engineering community – there is an expansion cycle of power obtained from a cocktail of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and the possibility of launching it five times, which affects the maneuverability of the device already launched into space – so all this is easily covered by the impressive money order that the Germans offered to France (and the ArianeGroupe, which is barely afloat to-day, which, in the absence of such subsidies, can simply go out of orbit, in the literal and figurative sense of the word, job cuts there are at an accelerated pace for several years now).

Berlin, expropriating and not too hiding it, French technologies and French know-how, positions itself as the savior of the industry. European solidarity, the ability to lend a shoulder in a difficult situation, oh what a familiar set of words! Paris is pleased that if the engine is eventually rel-eased, and the Ariane 6 roc-ket rises into the air, it will always be possible to say – “And this is our job too.”

Macron, who is not only to be elected for a second term, but also to preside over the EU for the next six months (starting in January), is happy that he managed to coax Merkel once again (and thus enlist the support of German bu-siness elites, without whose tacit approval no significant economic decision can be made in the EU). Two rival sisters received their earrings, but the fact that France was deprived of another plant, another production was closed, and a new line of qualified specialists will be sent to the labor exchange, so who cares now?

Certainly not German industrialists and certainly not Macron himself, since the future unemployed were not and are not included in his electorate. And even more so, what difference does it make if France will have its own aeronautics in another five years? Then Macron himself will disappear, and there will be no one to ask for France’s new defeat in the “Star Wars”.

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