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11 Mar, 2024 11:23

Germany struggling to fund defense budget – Bild

The country will reportedly be unable to reach NATO’s military spending target next year
Germany struggling to fund defense budget – Bild

Germany’s current military budget for 2025 is below NATO’s defense spending targets, the news outlet Bild reported on Saturday, citing sources within the Defense Ministry. The bloc’s members are committed to spending 2% of GDP on defense annually.

Berlin fell short of the defense spending goal in 2022 and 2023 but reportedly plans to hit the target at some point this year. Nevertheless, according to Bild, it appears set to miss again next year. The current defense budget for 2025 stands at €52 billion ($56.9 billion), but these funds will be almost completely eaten up by operating costs such as soldiers’ wages, heating barracks, repairing existing weapons, etc., the report notes.

Thus, with only €500 million remaining for investment in new weapons, the Bundeswehr’s list of planned projects will be short of funding. Such projects include the stationing of a Bundeswehr brigade in Lithuania and the acquisition of new Tranche 5 Eurofighter combat aircraft, the report notes. According to calculations seen by Bild, the defense budget would need to be hiked by as much as €6 billion for Germany to fund these and other projects and also to reach the NATO spending goal next year.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has already reportedly informed Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the situation, while also launching discussions with the Finance Ministry on ways to increase the Bundeswehr’s budget. However, the talks have reportedly been fruitless so far. Last week, Finance Minister Christian Lindner reportedly informed his colleagues that the previously set budget caps still apply and that Germany’s ministries should submit their budget plans based on the allocated sums by April 19.

Lindner had reportedly suggested financing additional defense spending through cuts to social services, but, according to Bild’s sources, Scholz made it clear that the NATO defense spending target should be met without social cuts.

“Germany is committed to its NATO allies. To achieve this, the defense budget must increase by a mid-single-digit billion amount from 2025. There will be no cuts in the social sector as counter-financing. We will never pit social security against military security,” Andreas Schwarz, budget expert for Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), told the news outlet.

Other NATO members have repeatedly called out Germany over its failure to reach the bloc’s defense spending target. Last month, the previous US president and current candidate Donald Trump expressed his view that in the case of an attack the US should not defend NATO allies that do not meet the alliance’s military spending threshold. The comments elicited criticism within NATO, with German Chancellor Scholz insisting that NATO’s “promise of protection applies unreservedly.”

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