Germany and the lack of weapons: how will the new military budget be used?

Germany has committed to the NATO line of spending 2% of GDP on defense. But the question is how it will meet the other requirements of the alliance.

Germany, due to its history, has always refused to increase its arms spending, which was for a long time a problem for the country’s security officials, and an annoyance for more than one American president. Washington’s ambassadors have, in various ways, pressured their German counterparts to take their country’s defense seriously.

That is a task that President Joe Biden’s current diplomatic representative in Berlin, Amy Gutmann, may approach differently. As he was settling in the German capital, Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine managed to change more about Germany’s military defense than many years of arguing with the Allies.

“It was a remarkable coincidence,” Gutmann said in a speech at the Free University of Berlin. “One of my goals was to urge Germany to honor the two percent commitment to NATO. That’s done,” he noted.

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In 2014, NATO members agreed to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on military defense spending over 10 years. Germany was slowly making its way toward that goal, but in 2021 it remained one of the important economies in the alliance that still fell short.

In his speech to parliament in March, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to address that shortfall, starting with an extraordinary budget of 100 billion euros (about $110 billion) for the Armed Forces. “Certainly that is something that a country of our size and our importance within Europe should be able to achieve,” he said.

Another military spending rule from the 2014 deal, however, did not receive as much attention. This foresees that the allies allocate 20% of their annual defense budget to “important new equipment.” In this sense, Germany is also lagging behind, since it is one of the four allies that have not yet met that requirement.

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While Scholz did not explicitly mention that second directive, political discussion in the weeks since its announcement has focused on expensive weapons of war, such as the nuclear-capable F-35 fighter jet, Israeli-made missile defense and armed drones.

“It’s about investing in hardware, because until now we have been undersupplying, equipping and underfunding everything that flies, swims and moves,” Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, vice president of the German Marshall Fund, told DW. I would say 20% [como punto de referencia] It’s probably a minimum.”

The simplicity of the target of a percentage of GDP for weapons helped make it the biggest talking point, he added, but it is the team’s goal that ensures the money goes to “real investments.” soldiers, social security contributions and pensions generally take up the lion’s share of the military budget.Of Germany’s defense budget of almost 47 billion euros ($51.3 billion) last year, more than 15 billion euros ( $16.8bn) went toward such payments, according to government figures.About €8bn ($9.1bn), or 18.5% of total spending, went to equipment purchases.

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