German government and opposition party leaders are urging their members to support a constitutional amendment that would ensure a €100 billion (U.S. $108 billion) military budget proposed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in late February, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The fund, which is intended to fill equipment and ammunition gaps, will be critical in putting Germany on track to meet the NATO-agreed-upon objective of spending 2% of GDP on military. If approved by Germany’s Bundestag, the funds will be added to yearly military budgets that have been locked at somewhat more than €50 billion for the next several years.
The additional expenditure contradicts Germany’s tight laws on new debt, requiring a two-thirds majority for an exemption. The ruling coalition of Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Greens, as well as the opposition Christian Democrats, reached an agreement on specifics over the weekend, indicating that the proposal’s approval is probable.
Government officials want the legislation passed before the summer session, which begins in early July. Simultaneously, they are developing purchase wish lists that prioritize how and when to spend the extra money.
Three key Social Democrats — Scholz, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, and Bundestag party chairman Rolf Mützenich — appealed their members for support in a letter sent on Monday.
They stated that Russia’s attack on Ukraine represents a substantial change in Europe’s security architecture. “It has demonstrated that living in freedom necessitates military might to maintain and defend it,” they said.
For months, Germans have been debating how the government should spend the money. The expenditure velocity is particularly concerning, since the Defence Ministry is unprepared to transform a rapid increase of, say, €25 billion beyond the annual military budget, for a total of €75 billion each year, into additional capabilities. Given the present economic forecast, the estimate implies spending the additional cash evenly over four years while meeting the NATO proportion every year.
According to the Social Democrats’ letter, seen by Defense News, the partywide deal allows for some latitude in obtaining the alliance rate. The goal is to attain a “average” expenditure rate of 2% of GDP over a five-year period, with investments directly tied to German NATO responsibilities.
According to the letter, just restocking the military’s weapons will cost €20 billion.
Parties have squabbled over allocation specifics as well as when relevant purchases should begin. According to the letter, the compromise plan recommends that capability gaps be filled with expenditures in “major” and multiyear acquisition projects beginning in 2022.
According to Christian Mölling, research director at the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Military Sales arrangements with the United States might offer a means to get money out the door quickly, possibly even this year. Berlin intends to purchase 35 F-35 fighter jets for the country’s nuclear-sharing duty. A new heavy transport helicopter program is also on the table, for which Boeing and Lockheed Martin made bids.
Mölling claimed that the money should also be used to re-energize the European Union’s combined military development drive, which is in danger of dissolving as the bloc’s disagreement about the endgame in Ukraine grows. “How can you make this positive for Europe?” he questioned, alluding to Germany’s increased spending power.
In response to Germany and France’s weapons-delivery policy for Ukraine, Eastern EU member states are drifting away from the pair that was once supposed to oversee the bloc’s military strategy. Russia’s immediate European neighbors believe the pace is too slow and that the emphasis on negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin is inappropriate.