Airbus CEO Says Europe Needs Common Fiscal, Defense Policies

Airbus Group NV Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said Europe must improve political and military cooperation and urged the U.K. to remain in the bloc as Prime Minister David Cameron faces growing anti-European sentiment at home.

“Europe needs to focus more on fiscal policy, foreign and defense policy,” Enders said late yesterday in Munich at an event organised by Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper. “Look at all the conflicts around us and nothing is moving.

As a pan-European company that spreads its resources across Germany, France, the U.K. and Spain, Airbus is often considered a model of cooperation across the region, an attribute Enders said is flattering, though not applicable for any industry. Still, Enders has endured his own brush with political opposition, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel dealing him a major defeat when she blocked his planned merger with BAE Systems Plc two years ago to create a European defense giant.

‘‘We don’t need the United States of Europe, a centralised region, but what we would badly need is a common defense and foreign policy, and there’s no sign that nations are getting serious about that.”

At the same time, Enders said delegating some powers to member states while coordinating efforts in other spheres would placate critics in Britain, where Cameron has vowed to repatriate powers and hold an in-or-out referendum on British membership of the EU if he wins a national election next year. Up until now, “ever closer union” has been one of the EU’s central tenets, even as the creation of a single currency used by 18 countries threatens to fuel divisions.

“It should not be taboo to repatriate some competencies if that makes sense,” Enders said. “That would build a very important bridge for Cameron and the British. I would hate to see a European Union without Britain because they bring a liberal, free-market element to Europe.”

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