Tensions have eased at EADS as France and Germany agreed to streamline the aerospace company’s management structure on the day that Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy visited its planemaking headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Sarkozy stressed the changes were not a victory for either country. He said: “France wants, with all its might, for EADS to be successful, but how can a company succeed when it has dual management at every level and dual nationality at every level? Fundamentally, things can’t go on like that: we need a single mode of governance. France didn’t beat Germany and Germany didn’t beat France. It’s EADS which has won.”
While Merkel added: “Our political responsibility is to do something for the workers. We managed to do that in a way that now both sides are winners. France and Germany both have lots of people here. And their jobs depend on what happens at Airbus.”
Under the management restructuring, Ruediger Grube – of major shareholder Daimler – becomes sole chairman of EADS. Current French co-chairman Arnaud Lagardere will move back into that post in 2011.
Frenchman Louis Gallois will become the sole chief executive of parent company EADS. Germany’s Thomas Enders will take charge of Airbus. The two men currently serve as joint bosses of EADS, with Gallois also in charge of the day-to-day running of Airbus. Enders, who is seen as a protégé of Merkel’s, will report to Gallois.
The changes end seven years of cumbersome dual management which has been blamed for some of
But the unions – facing thousands of job cuts – were not impressed. Jean Francois Knepper, head of Airbus’ European works council, said: “I don’t think this will solve anything.” He added: “The actors have been shifted around, but the struggles for power and influence will continue.”