Brexit trade pact: tough talks with slight progress

There is more movement in the negotiations on a Brexit trade pact – but is the pace enough? Even if many detailed questions have been clarified, there are still important issues, including fishing.

By Ralph Sina, ARD-Studio Brussels

A last-minute deal between Brussels and London, between the EU and the United Kingdom on the future relationship is not ruled out: EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen speaks of progress and more movement. “When it comes to important issues, what is good,” stressed the Commission President in Brussels at the end of last week.

For example, the important question is how to prevent the UK from exporting highly subsidized products to the EU internal market at dumping prices from next January. It is now becoming apparent that the British side is ready to adhere to the EU subsidy regulations. The United Kingdom also wants to maintain the current EU environment, climate protection and occupational health and safety regulations.

However, it is still unclear which authority decides whether the British actually adhere to the rules of the internal market and what a yellow or red card looks like if standards are violated.

Fishing still unexplained

The question of whether and how much fish EU trawlers may continue to catch in British territorial waters is also unresolved, although it is economically third-rate but emotionally charged. For example, 100 percent of French herring comes from British waters because their depth is particularly popular with herring. “So there is still a lot to be done,” stressed Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

And as long as there is no agreement on the important points of contention, it does not count that the existing 600-page draft contract is now in agreement on many details.

EU driving licenses should also be valid in the UK

Driving licenses from EU member states should continue to be valid in the UK, trucks and cars with EU license plates should continue to be allowed to drive on UK roads and pilot licenses should be mutually recognized for flights between airports in the EU and Great Britain.

What is certain is that, even in the event of a deal, freight forwarders in the EU must obtain a digital access permit for the county of Kent, because Dover is the largest cargo handling port in the UK. Because whether deal or no-deal: From January 1st, an external border will separate the EU from the third country Great Britain. From 2021 onwards, it will no longer be as simple as it was before.

Digging should be prevented

But so that the EU’s external border does not become a ditch with the United Kingdom, the EU Commission is very interested in a future contract. The teams of experts worked day and night on the contract text, emphasizes von der Leyen. But a Covid case in the Barnier team caused a negotiation delay last week.

No final version of the text is in sight yet, although the EU Parliament expects an agreement by the beginning of this week at the latest. France and Italy are therefore worried that there will be enough time to translate the treaty into the EU’s 24 official languages. You are against using the English version as the basis for the ratification process.

Special session of the EU Parliament at the end of December?

There is already talk in Brussels of convening a special session of the EU Parliament on December 28th to put the treaty to a vote. France, Belgium and the Netherlands have asked the EU Commission to intensify their preparations in the event of a no-deal.

Credit insurer: Germany would be hard hit by Brexit

In a study on the consequences of an unregulated Brexit, the credit insurer Euler Hermes comes to the conclusion that a hard Brexit could cost the EU 33 billion euros in annual export revenues. According to this study, the Federal Republic of Germany would be particularly affected: Due to the threat of tariffs and higher costs for handling goods at the borders, German exports could decline by up to 8.2 billion euros.

In the past few years, German companies exported goods worth around 79 billion euros to Great Britain every year, thereby securing around 750,000 jobs in Germany.

B5 reported on this topic on November 23, 2020 at 11:21 a.m.


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Brexit diary: waiting for exit – or continuation?

Negotiations on a Brexit agreement are dragging on. The “Brexiteers” care little about the prospect of failure. At best, experts expect a dry deal.

By Annette Dittert, ARD-Studio London

The world has been waiting for the end of the Brexit negotiations for months. Deadlines are set and ignored, the weeks go by and nothing happens. But now the last ultimate deadline looms: January 1, 2021. Because on this day the transition phase ends and Brexit comes into force. With or without a deal.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated in recent weeks that Great Britain could easily leave the EU without a deal, and that the country would then also flourish economically. Unlike most of the British economy, many of the Brexit hardliners in his party see it the same way. In an interview with John Redwood, for example, John Redwood, for example, said in an interview: “We don’t need a trade agreement to do business. We now have a fantastic opportunity even without a deal to develop ourselves, then we produce our own food. “

The biggest advantages of an exit without a deal, the so-called no deal, is that you then no longer have to do things by halves, explains Redwood: “Our concern is freedom, we want to finally be an independent country again that is no longer controlled by the EU and being ordered around. “

It all depends on the atmosphere

Jill Rutter of the Institute for Government, an independent think tank in London, believes that a deal in the short time left can only be so thin and superficial that the practical consequences would hardly differ in practice from an exit without an agreement . “The real difference lies in the atmosphere. After all, negotiations have to be continued after January 1st, 2021, regardless of whether it is a deal or no deal. And a deal before the end of the year would be a much more positive basis for the future relationship between Great Britain and the EU. “

Whatever the outcome of the negotiations in the coming weeks, Great Britain and the EU countries will definitely have to prepare for turbulent scenes on both sides of the borders from the beginning of January.


Tagesschau24 reported on this topic on October 30, 2020 at 11:00 a.m.


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Broadcast: Tagesschau 11/13/2020 8:00 p.m.

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Corona crisis at Disney: billions lost with theme parks

Closed amusement parks, canceled sporting events, and postponed movie releases have been hard on Disney. The relaxation of some restrictions recently relieved the entertainment company.

For example, the sports broadcaster ESPN helped resume live sporting events. The theme parks in the US also reopened, albeit not at full capacity. The park in Florida, for example, works with 35 percent of full visitor occupancy.

Nonetheless, the losses remain considerable: In the business with amusement parks, vacation resorts and cruises, revenues in the fourth quarter fell 61 percent to 2.6 billion dollars. There was an operating loss of $ 1.1 billion.

The streaming business is growing

CEO Bob Chapek highlighted the streaming business of the online video service Disney +, which was launched a year ago, as a great success. At the end of the quarter it already had almost 74 million users. Hulu reported a total of 36.6 million viewers and ESPN + 10.3 million.

But Disney + is facing challenges: A one-year, free trial subscription for millions of Verizon customers is expiring. Disney therefore wants to attract more users with new offers: a “Star Wars” Lego movie this month, the Pixar flick “Soul” for Christmas and the Marvel series “WandaVision” in January.

In the past quarter the result of the streaming unit was minus 580 million dollars. However, experts had expected a loss almost twice as high. According to management, the segment should make a profit in 2024, but experts expect it to be the case sooner.

Bold steps into the future

“Despite the disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, we have been able to manage our businesses effectively while taking bold and deliberate steps to position Disney for long-term growth,” said Chapek.

However, losses are currently accumulating. For the quarter, Disney posted a 23 percent drop in revenue to $ 14.7 billion. The bottom line loss was $ 710 million, which corresponds to 601 million euros. In the previous year the group had made a profit of $ 777 million.

More course information on Walt Disney

For the entire past fiscal year 2020, Disney suffered a net loss of $ 2.8 billion. In the previous year, the group had earned $ 10.4 billion. Revenues fell six percent to $ 65.4 billion. In view of the pandemic, Disney does not want to pay a dividend in the second half of the fiscal year.

Experts had expected larger losses on average. The relative success of the streaming service also ensured that the share in the USA rose significantly after the trading hours.

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Those: boerse.ard.de


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Resignation of Johnson employee causes dispute in London

If you believe media reports, a bitter argument rages on Downing Street. There is even speculation about possible resignations of Johnson advisor Dominic Cummings and Brexit negotiator David Frost.

After the resignation of the head of communications from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a heated dispute broke out in the British government, according to media reports. There is speculation about a power struggle between different groups within the management level.

Communications chief Lee Cain announced on Wednesday evening without giving a reason that he would be leaving his post at the end of the year. Cain is a close confidante of Johnson consultant Dominic Cummings. Both are companions of the conservative politician from the election campaign for the Brexit referendum in 2016, in which the British narrowly voted to leave the EU. Cummings is now considered a puller in the government seat of Downing Street, but is controversial. According to TimesRadio journalist Tom Newton Dunn, he is said to be “very unhappy” with Cain’s departure and at times considered resigning himself.

Cain was reportedly to be promoted to chief of staff

The Times recently reported that Cain should be promoted to chief of staff. But that was reportedly met with displeasure from ministers, advisors and MPs. The BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg tweeted resistance from Johnson’s fiancé Carrie Symonds, citing unnamed insider sources. Even a resignation of Brexit negotiator David Frost, who is counted as part of the Cain camp, cannot be ruled out, according to the BBC reporter.

According to the “Guardian”, the former journalist Cain first became known to a wider public during the 2010 election campaign: For the left-wing tabloid “Daily Mirror” he disguised as a chicken followed conservative politicians during election campaign appearances and made fun of them. He later switched to the “Vote Leave” Brexit campaign.

A successor has already been determined

“It has been a privilege to have worked as a consultant to Mr. Johnson for the past three years and to be part of the team that helped him win the leadership of the Tory Party and secure the largest Conservative majority in three decades,” said Cain on Wednesday. It was also an honor for him to be offered the post of Chief of Staff. Johnson thanked Cain for his services and called him a “true ally and friend”.

According to the broadcaster, the current chief government spokesman, James Slack, will follow Cain in the role of communications chief.

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Germany and the USA: End of the relationship crisis?

What will change for Germany when Democrat Biden moves into the White House? A whole lot. But not every conflict in the transatlantic relationship should be resolved.

An analysis by Kai Küstner, ARD capital studio

It was one of those numerous moments in which German journalists couldn’t believe their ears: On a scale from zero to ten, his relationship with Angela Merkel was a ten, so outstanding, claimed Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Canada in early June 2018. That sounded implausible even then. And just a few weeks later, it was Trump himself who proved the opposite: When, at the opening breakfast at the NATO summit, he argued for minutes about the low German defense spending, the NordStream 2 gas pipeline, and declared that Germany would become “completely dependent on Russia because of its energy dependence controlled”.

In any case, the transatlantic alienation occurred at a breathtaking pace during the Trump years. So does it make a difference whether Trump or a Democrat sits in the White House? Yes, a huge one.

Shattered agreements

In four years in office, the US President has not only shattered a lot of trust but also a lot of agreements that the German government – and with it the EU – really care about: including the nuclear agreement with Iran, which is supposed to keep Tehran from entering into getting possession of the atomic bomb or the Paris Climate Agreement.

If Biden is in the Oval Office, one of his first official acts will be to revive this environmental treaty. Trump also withdrew the US from the World Health Organization.


End of constant nervousness

At least as important, however, is that the federal government with Biden in the White House no longer has to remain in a state of constant nervousness and live with the constant fear: that Germany will be punished with heavy car tariffs, that Trump is still able to implode NATO that the Europeans are drifting further apart.

Because the US President – an avowed Brexit friend who saw the EU as an opponent, never as a partner – was a master at flattering individual states and ostracizing others. Germany was also among those punished when Trump announced without warning that US soldiers would be withdrawn from here and some of them relocated to other European countries.

Conflicts remain

Certainly: The US Democrats are not at all friends of the Russia pipeline NordStream 2. Barack Obama also repeatedly complained that he ultimately finances the German welfare state because Berlin is hardly investing anything in defense because of the US protective umbrella. Biden, too, would force Europe not only to put more money into its hands for the military, but also to increasingly take things into its own hands – at least in its neighborhood, in Eastern Europe, in Africa and clearly in the conflict with China to beat the side of America.

But: Gone would be the time – at least for four years – in which one had to seriously worry whether there will soon be anything left of the security architecture that has grown in 70 years and the transatlantic friendship.

Another style

In terms of style and content, Biden would be a different president, a much more European one. Trump, referred to by some as “anti-Merkel”, has not visited Berlin once in his four years in office – which actually says everything about the relationship with the German Chancellor.

He has publicly accused her of destroying the country with her refugee policy. He forced them to say that Europe had to “take its fate somewhat into its own hands”. The discussion of how far this self-reflection of Europeans must go will in any case continue.

Germany and Europe could sleep a little easier again under a Democratic President Biden – but falling into deep sleep would probably be a mistake in view of a deeply divided America.

Tagesschau24 reported on this topic on November 8, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. and Tagesschau at 10:05 a.m.


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Who will be the new US President ?: Why Brussels is hoping for Biden

Punitive tariffs, subsidy dispute, defense spending – Europe has not had an easy time of it with the US over the past four years. But would it be easier for the EU if Biden wins?

By Ralph Sina, ARD-Studio Brussels

“YES YOU CAN” tweeted EPP boss Donald Tusk in capital letters. And the photo below from 2015 shows a laughing Joe Biden, who puts a friendly hand on the shoulder of former EU Council President Tusk. Biden’s visits to Brussels as Vice President were a classic during the Obama era: working lunches with Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, speeches in front of the EU Parliament, photos with Manfred Weber from the European People’s Party and with David McAllister, the current Chairman of the Foreign Office Committee.

“Oh, committee chairman – that was me too,” he flirted during his last appearance as Vice President in the EU Parliament. As chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Senate, Biden helped shape US foreign policy for years, and thus also the US relationship with the EU.

“America needs strong alliances”

“Together, the US Congress and the European Parliament represent around 800 million people,” he said to MPs in Brussels. “Consider for a moment what that means: two elected institutions that help determine the laws for one eighth of the world’s population.”

That is really remarkable. He himself had worked on laws as a member of parliament for more than 36 years and therefore it was an honor to address the EU Parliament. “America needs strong allies and strong alliances,” was Biden’s message. A strong European Union is essential to America’s prosperity and long-term security.

Biden wouldn’t be a feel-good president either

Nothing has changed in Biden’s positive attitude towards the EU and NATO. But the Commission, Parliament and also the headquarters of the transatlantic alliance in Brussels are under no illusions: The orientation away from Europe and the stronger focus on Asia had already begun under Obama and Biden. NATO’s so-called two percent target, i.e. the demand for more money for defense, also dates from this period.

Biden would not be a pure feel-good president for the EU. But in contrast to the Brexit supporter Trump, by no means her declared opponent. “Who will step out next after the British?” That was Trump’s question in his first Brussels phone call with former EU Council President Tusk. “You could think, with friends like Trump, who still needs enemies?” Tusk asked helplessly in Brussels afterwards.

And many in Brussels are just as perplexed: What if the EU expert and sympathizer Biden doesn’t win? What if Tusk is wrong with his “YES YOU CAN” optimism about things? While Biden raved about a great city “with its thousand-year history” on his last visit to Brussels and about the fact that it is the Belgian capital and home of the EU and NATO at the same time, incumbent Trump regards Brussels as a hellhole and the EU as a cloak of German interests. So what if Trump arrives as the next US President and not Biden? The answer from Brussels is perplexity and silence.



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Difficult Brexit negotiations: The fear of the no-deal

The clock is ticking, but a breakthrough is still a long way off: negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU and Great Britain are stalling. Whether a solution can be found depends, among other things, on fishing.

By Raplh Sina, ARD-Studio Brussels

David McAllister puts the pressure on. He is head of the Brexit coordination group in the European Parliament – and there will be no trade deal between the EU and the UK without Parliament’s approval. McAllister, who is also chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the EU Parliament, has repeatedly emphasized in the past few weeks that it is clear to Parliament that “a legal text must be ready for signature by October 31st”.

But now it’s already November – and this legal text ready for signature is still not in sight, although EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his British colleague David Frost worked nonstop behind closed doors in London last week to make progress. Barnier then dampened the prospect of a quick EU-UK deal on future relations: “We are working hard to reach an agreement. There is still a lot to do,” he tweeted on Friday. Talks with British negotiator David Frost would now continue in Brussels.

Federal government is publicly concerned

Furthermore, it is completely unclear how the compromise should look in practice on the three crucial issues. “There are very difficult issues that are very important for the EU,” stressed EU Council President Charles Michel. This includes the question of whether the British are willing to comply with its standards and rules in return for duty-free and quota-free access to the internal market. But also what kind of supervision and what kind of arbitration board the UK accepts in disputes. And last but not least, how much fish the EU fleets will be allowed to catch in British territorial waters from January. “We will see in the next few days whether there are the hoped-for positive developments,” said the EU Council President.

The federal government is now publicly concerned: It is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in the Brexit talks, said Finance State Secretary Jörk Kukies, who is responsible for Europe and the financial market in the Ministry of Finance, at the end of last week. After all, German companies depended heavily on wholesale financing in the City of London.

Dispute over fishing in British waters

The Hungarian government, for whose auto parts industry the British market is an important customer, is also concerned. Both sides would have a lot to lose. An agreement is also in the interests of the EU – sometimes one has the feeling that this is being forgotten, said the Hungarian ambassador in London, Frenc Kumin, the “Sunday Express”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also called for compromise on the EU side. But above all, the French fishing associations and the fishing industry have shown themselves to be uncompromising on the question of the future catch quota in British territorial waters. Although only around 7,500 of the total of 30 million French jobs depend on fishing, and the fishing industry accounts for less than 0.1 percent of French economic output, the political pressure on Macron from fishermen is considerable.

Macron has a red line

“We will not sacrifice our fishermen,” announced the French President in Brussels after the EU’s Brexit summit in October. But at the same time he made it clear to the fishermen in Brittany and Normandy from Brussels that in the event of a no-deal there would be no French trawlers in British territorial waters and that the new French fishing quotas from January 1st could not be the old ones . “Will the situation be the same as before?”, Macron asked rhetorically after the last EU summit: “No, it won’t. And our fishermen know that.”

The French President is ready to accept lower fishing quotas. But without French fishing access to the waters off the British coast, there is no deal with the British, that’s Macron’s red line. And the French President is also not prepared to renegotiate with the British every year about quotas for over 100 types of fish. After all, the EU does not renegotiate the British access to certain parts of the internal market every year, stressed the President.

“They can’t eat that much fish and chips”

David McAllister can understand Macron well on this point: “Negotiating a hundred different types of fish every year, people say, Michel Barnier, the experts: That is technically not possible at all.” And one thing is certain for McAllister: If the negotiations fail and the British have all the fish to themselves, then they would no longer be able to export their catches to the EU – and would be sitting on a mountain of fish. “The English, Scots and Welsh people can’t eat that much fish and chips,” says McAllister.



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Boris Johnson’s risky moves against the EU in the Brexit final

Boris Johnson continues to be the tough negotiator. Last week he declared the Brexit negotiations over, now the U-turn has followed. Insight or tactic?

“Political theater” was what the CSU European MP Manfred Weber called Boris Johnson’s announcement to break off talks on the Brexit trade package. As a theater, you actually have to classify a lot of what is currently going on between the EU and London. With his strategy of maximum demands on the EU, the British Prime Minister poses as a strong man – but has to be careful that his threats do not come to nothing. But the EU will also have to make compromises.

Late last week Johnson declared the negotiations with the EU overif they do not fundamentally rethink their position. A Johnson spokesman became even clearer: “The trade talks are over. The EU has effectively ended them.” Should Brussels not move fundamentally, the team headed by chief negotiator Michel Barnier will not have to bother to come to London.

So much for the theater. In reality, of course, London and Brussels continued to negotiate, even if not initially at the highest level – they did so before Johnson officially announced yesterday, Wednesday, that he would return to the negotiating table. There is no alternative to a trade agreement for either side – regardless of whether it becomes something this year or later.

Australia and Canada are not role models

Johnson repeatedly speaks of a trade agreement with the EU based on the model of Canada or Australia. The former is currently completely unrealistic, the latter just a paraphrase for a no-deal Brexit. The CETA agreement with Canada is highly complex, the negotiations on it took almost six years and it is based on completely different political, economic and geographical conditions than an agreement with Great Britain. And Johnson actually doesn’t want a Canada agreement at all, because there is no duty-free movement of goods in this, which Johnson absolutely wants to negotiate with the EU.

The EU’s agreements with Australia are also unsuitable as a model for future relations between Europe and Great Britain. There is no free trade agreement between the EU and Australia. Both sides have only concluded framework agreements for trade, customs duties are also due here. So when Johnson speaks of a “contract based on the Australian model”, that is only a paraphrase for the situation after a no-deal Brexit, in which both sides largely exchange goods according to the guidelines of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

What hooks up a deal

There are currently three sticking points: On the one hand, there is access for EU fishermen to British waters – for European coastal states such as France this is just as emotional an issue as it is for Great Britain, which finally wants to determine its rich fishing grounds alone. The second central point is the so-called “level playing field”: In return for duty-free access to the internal market, the EU wants the same environmental, social and subsidy standards to protect against dumping. However, Great Britain no longer wants to let the Union talk itself into it and insists on its state sovereignty after leaving the EU. This also applies to point three, the so-called “governance”: The EU demands a reliable mediation instrument in the event that one side deviates from the treaty. So far she’s been biting granite in London. However, Johnson has agreed to abandon his demand for many individual contracts and to negotiate a single large contract – as requested by the EU.

When it comes to fishing rights, Britain only appears to have a trump card. The background to this is a dispute over catch quotas for more than 100 species and the question of whether these quotas should be negotiated annually or in longer periods of time. Without an agreement with the UK, EU fishermen would no longer have access to UK waters. But: Great Britain currently exports around 60 percent of the fish caught in British waters to the EU. Should tariffs be due on the catches, this market could also suffer considerably or even collapse.

How could it go on?

If the EU and Great Britain can return to trusting cooperation, there are around three weeks left to conclude a trade agreement. That is tight, but feasible, especially since both sides want to negotiate around the clock and also on the weekends. Barnier made it clear in a speech in the European Parliament on Wednesday: “I think an agreement is within reach if we on both sides are willing to work constructively and in a spirit of compromise. Our door will remain open until the last day, until the last Day on which it still works. “

A sign from a pro-Brexit protester reading “No Deal Let’s Go WTO” in London: Should there actually be a Brexit without a trade agreement, mutual tariffs would also be due with the WTO rules. (Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth / dpa)

If both sides insist on their maximum demands, there will actually be a Brexit without the future relations between the EU and Great Britain being clarified. Then the rules of the WTO take effect, but they mean high tariffs for both sides.

The EU should also consider an emergency option in the event of a hard Brexit. The commercial contract therefore does not necessarily have to be signed and sealed by the end of the year – if necessary, after a brief, unregulated phase, a contract would come into force with a delay in early January. “It is now being discussed that in the event that an agreement does not succeed by around 10 November, one can accept chaos at the beginning of the year for a few weeks at the beginning of the year and simply continue to negotiate,” said a high-ranking EU member familiar with the talks. Diplomat.

Less theater, more realism

From the British side, however, it was heard that they would not get involved. After a hard Brexit, the WTO rules would first have to be introduced. British diplomatic circles said it was almost impossible that Johnson would negotiate a different solution with the EU during this phase.

There are three decisive and exciting weeks ahead of us, in which it will definitely be decided how the EU and Great Britain will deal with each other from 2021 onwards. For this time one can only wish: Less theater, more realism – on both sides.

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Space Center in Ramstein: upgrading in space

The NATO defense ministers want to build a space center in Ramstein. The alliance asserts that it does not want to militarize space. But the war in the stars has already begun.

By Ute Spangenberger and Stephan Lenhardt, SWR

Space, endless expanses. One satellite orbits another, it casts a net and catches it. What sounds like Star Trek could soon be a reality. The President of the International Institute of Space Law, Kai-Uwe Schrogl, from the University of Tübingen, described the development of such satellite technologies in a “Spiegel” interview.

He also mentioned the use of small Russian inspection satellites for reconnaissance in space. In Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate, NATO intends to monitor and identify such and similar activities in the future. The defense ministers of the 30 member states want to decide on a space center in Germany this afternoon.

ESA warns of the military in space

The European Space Agency ESA is also researching new satellite technologies, says Schrogl. But the ESA is not concerned with military actions, but with the protection of existing technologies. According to ESA, around 3,000 dead satellites are flying through space and threaten around 2,000 active ones. ESA itself rejects weapons in space. “A military use of space harbors the risk that it disturbs and destroys trust, which has grown between the countries over many years,” says ESA Director General Jan Wörner daily News-Interview.

Investing in Security

But the Space Center, which is to be built in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, is part of NATO. A military alliance. Your Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asserts that the alliance is not about the militarization of space, but about education. But he also announces investments in new technologies to protect existing satellites. “Some nations like Russia and China are developing systems that can disrupt or even shoot down satellites,” said Stoltenberg. “We have to improve our understanding of the challenges in space, including how we deal with them.”

In addition to China and the USA, India has already shot down its own satellites in space, according to experts like Schrogl. These are not only militarily questionable maneuvers, the states also ensure that there is even more garbage flying around in space.

Space as a field of application

Such news may have had a major impact on the decision for a NATO space center. Last year the alliance had already declared space to be an independent operational area. Stoltenberg: “Fast, effective and secure satellite communication is essential for our troops.” However, this communication is not only essential for the military for a long time, it has also arrived in our everyday lives.

“Space travel is infrastructure today. We use it every day, whether it is for navigation in the car or on the bike. Whether it is for telecommunications, when we need news from another continent. Or when it comes to weather forecasting.” is how ESA boss Wörner describes it. Attacks on satellites could paralyze large parts of public life. This is one of the reasons why Wörner warns of an arms race in space.

Bundeswehr active in space

Also because NATO does not have its own satellites in space, the center in Ramstein is important. The alliance relies on allies in space. Half a dozen NATO members already have their own space units in their armed forces. The Air Force’s space situation center, for example, is located in Kalkar and Uedem on the Lower Rhine. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer recently put the Air and Space Operations Center (ASOC) into service there.

It is explicitly responsible for space operations. “The protection of its own space systems is a genuine, military task of the Bundeswehr,” is how the unit describes its tasks. The ASOC sees itself as a “central command post”. The Federal Ministry of Defense welcomes the Space Center in Rhineland-Palatinate accordingly and “the consistent consideration of the space dimension in NATO,” said a spokesman.

Demand for transparency

There will be no construction in Ramstein for the time being. The center is to move into existing buildings and the staff is already on site. Because the NATO air force command is already located there. But even if NATO emphasizes that it does not want to send any weapons into space, Ramstein could be expanded into a command center for defense measures. Any space technology is also potentially suitable for warlike purposes.

“Near-Earth space has long been militarized. We now need transparency,” demanded Schrogl in “Spiegel”. He advocates a kind of international air traffic control in space. And ESA boss Wörner adds: “As soon as it really comes down to making Star Wars, I have my problems.”


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