Airbus: the government will play an extensive role
Dominique de Villepin, in referring to recent difficulties encountered by Airbus and fears that have accompanied the announcement of the Power 8 competitiveness plan, has stated that "sufficient time must be set aside for dialogue between labour and management representatives". He made the statement following a meeting on the Airbus situation held on 5 March, with the chairmen of parliamentary parties and economic affairs committees from the French National Assembly and Senate, also attended by Thierry Breton, Dominique Perben, Gérard Larcher and François Loos.
The Prime Minister hopes that "genuine forums for dialogue can be established for all major Airbus sites, involving management, staff representatives and also elected officials affected by restructuring." Dominique de Villepin stated that "The plan will not involve any compulsory redundancies. All major group sites have a future in manufacturing". On these two points, he has received confirmation from Louis Gallois.
The head of government went on to say that "the government will therefore play an extensive role in addressing the Airbus crisis" since "no large firm and no single manufacturing industry can be expected to fend for itself in a globalised world." "The government is prepared to contribute, with other shareholders, to any capital increase that the company deems necessary. On account of this, and as a shareholder, the government believes that EADS should not pay a dividend this year, so that investment capacity can be increased."
Reimbursable advances for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs)
During his monthly press conference on 1st March, the Prime Minister announced that €100 million would be provided to the composite industry. "Within a month, we will be in a position to authorise the first projects" he pointed out on 5 March. At the same time, in Toulouse, Airbus signed a partnership charter with its subcontractors. Reimbursable advances will be made available to SMEs in the aeronautical sector to the value of €80 million. The government has committed to efforts aimed at strengthening the technological capacity of the industry with support from the Agency for Industrial Innovation and Competitiveness Clusters.
According to Dominique de Villepin, the aircraft manufacturer is currently subject to an overly complex system of governance. While the current shareholders’ agreement safeguards the company from any hostile takeover bid, "the system of governance must be simplified so that, in future, the group can respond more efficiently to industrial challenges". In his opinion, this issue should be addressed in line with the company’s upcoming milestones.
While many regional presidents have publicly expressed a desire to provide direct support to the company, Dominique de Villepin granted them a brief meeting aimed at taking stock of the forms of assistance that they will provide to Airbus and to the industry as a whole.