German Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement said European shipbuilders are still government-controlled and as such aren't ready to merge with their German counterparts. “The potential partners are not yet advanced enough,” Clement told reporters at a maritime conference in Bremen (Germany) when asked if he would support a merger between ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and shipbuilders elsewhere in Europe. “We have made it clear that any cooperation between privately owned and publicly funded partners would fail.'' There can only be cooperation among equals and state-run shipbuilding has to be rejected, he said.
The French government approved a proposal, earlier in December 2004, to sell a stake in state-owned shipbuilder DCN and to allow the company to play a central role in both the French and European defense industries. However, according to other German officials both countries still have homework to do in cleaning up their marine industries. On the French side, it is expected that DCN would have to seal a promised alliance with Thales SA, France's biggest military contractor, and then the French government would have to sell DCN. Other type of a shipbuilding alliance that could include France's Alstom SA was also considered premature.