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Defense budget: Strong criticism of Bundeswehr spending in budget compromise

Defense budget: Strong criticism of Bundeswehr spending in budget compromise
Defense budget: Strong criticism of Bundeswehr spending in budget compromise

Is the turning point already over? Defense Minister Pistorius wants a good six billion euros more for the Bundeswehr – and only gets 1.2 billion. The outrage among experts and the opposition is great.

After the hard-won budget compromise of the traffic light coalition, there is massive criticism of the expected small increase in the defense budget. The Bundeswehr Association, among others, is calling for significant improvements. It points to the new military threat situation in Europe and Germany’s responsibility in the world. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), on the other hand, stresses that the Bundeswehr will receive more money with the draft budget than in the past.

On Friday night, the leaders of the coalition settled the budget dispute that had been simmering for months and agreed on a draft for the federal budget for 2025. The debt brake will be adhered to, and no budgetary emergency has been identified, for example due to spending on military and humanitarian support for Ukraine. This was important to the FDP and its finance minister Christian Lindner.

Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, on the other hand, was unable to get his way. The SPD man wanted to increase the defence budget from around 52 billion euros by more than six billion euros. However, he was only granted an increase of 1.2 billion euros.

Bundeswehr Association reacts with horror

The chairman of the Bundeswehr Association, André Wüstner, reacted indignantly: “The federal government may want to use this budget to get through this legislative period, but the Bundeswehr as an essential part of our security architecture – and thus all of us – will pay the price for it,” he told the German Press Agency. An increase of 1.2 billion euros “will in no way do justice to the current threat situation and certainly not to Germany’s responsibility in the world.”

“The troops are astonished, mostly shocked. Especially after the Chancellor’s statement during the Munich Security Conference, ‘Without security, everything is nothing’, nobody would have expected the defense budget to be so underfunded,” said Wüstner. “Despite the declaration of a turning point, unfortunately no realization has occurred.”

Improvements required in Parliament

Everyone knows that the Bundeswehr’s so-called special assets of 100 billion euros are already fully tied up in contracts this year. “We also need the increase in the defense budget to cover the dramatically rising operating expenses – from power generators to fuel and special tool sets to personnel,” emphasized Wüstner.

He demanded that the Bundestag’s budget deliberations, which begin in September after the summer break, “Parliament must make massive adjustments.” If this does not happen, “then it will be a turning point – an end to a time.”

Scholz defends the budget compromise

The Chancellor, however, defended the budget compromise, which – as he admitted at a citizens’ dialogue in Weimar – was “achieved with great effort”. The coalition is doing something for children and families by increasing child benefit and the child supplement, said Scholz. It is investing in the country’s infrastructure such as roads and railways. And money is also flowing into the most modern infrastructure for Germany’s internal and external security.

The Chancellor stressed that “we are providing the necessary money for the security of our country and that we will therefore also equip the Bundeswehr better than was the case in the past.”

But there is also criticism within the traffic light coalition. SPD budget expert Andreas Schwarz spoke in the “Tagesspiegel” newspaper of a “sobering figure”. “The result of the internal government budget talks does not correspond to what we need in the defense sector.” Now the MPs have the task of “making significant improvements” in the parliamentary process.

Opposition also raises alarm

The Union also believes that improvements are necessary. “What we need now is a quick, genuine re-prioritization of the budget that will enable a stable and increased defense budget,” CDU security expert Roderich Kiesewetter told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”.

The president of the Reservists’ Association, Patrick Sensburg, criticized the small increase in the defense budget, saying: “This will not make us fit for war.” The former CDU member of the Bundestag warned the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND): “In fact, there will be gaps everywhere.”

Lindner sees “completely normal budget process”

Finance Minister Lindner is relaxed about the fact that the Bundeswehr has to make do with less money than hoped. “The defense minister is getting more money than in the previous budget, but he is getting less money than he publicly demanded,” he told Bild. “That is the normal budget process.”

A minister works passionately for his department and naturally demands the maximum, argued Lindner. “The task of the finance minister and the federal government as a whole is then to examine what is desirable and what is really necessary.”

After 2025, things will get “tighter and tighter” in terms of funding for the Bundeswehr

The financing of the Bundeswehr beyond 2025 is also likely to lead to heated debates. By then, the money from the special fund will have been spent. Chancellor Scholz confirmed in Weimar that the regular defense budget from 2028 onwards should be 80 billion euros.

Funding for this has not yet been found. “It is significantly greater than our problem of the last two or three days or last night,” said Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) on ARD’s “Tagesthemen” on Friday evening. And: “We’ll just about get through 2025. After that, it will get increasingly tighter.”

Source: Stern

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