Scholz's defence budget triggers disputes in Germany

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 3.5.2018 20:20

Germany's budget drafted by Social Democratic Finance Minister Olaf Scholz provoked a protest from the Christian-Democrat Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, after Scholz granted an increase of only €5.5 bn for defence until 2021, instead of the €12 bn that von der Leyen has requested.

Under the plan, Germany's defence budget will rise from 1.24% of GDP in 2017 to 1.3% (to €41,5 bn) in 2019, and slide back to 1.25% by 2021, due to the anticipated strong economic growth outpacing the growth of defence spending. Chancellor Merkel reiterated she remains committed to meet the 2% NATO benchmark by 2024. Von der Leyen warned that sticking with Scholz's budget, Germany would have to axe several arms deals, such as the joint submarines construction project with Norway, or the acquisition of six C130 Hercules aircraft that Berlin pledged for a joint Franco-German squadron. Some German deputies, for instance, Greens' leader Annalena Baerbock, argue that Bundeswehr's problem lies in mismanagement of funds, not the lack thereof. Only 95 of Germany’s 244 Leopard tanks, none of its submarines, and none of the Luftwaffe’s 14 A400M aircraft were found to be operational in February. Meanwhile, the Russian military, whose 2017 defence budget was estimated at €54.9bn manages to field thousands of tanks, aircraft and vessels, while entering a new and complex 2018-2027 modernisation program.

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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