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German defense minister says military budget gap 'annoying'

July 8, 2024

Germany's defense minister has voiced irritation after his ministry received less funding than he had hoped.

Germany's Defence Minister Boris Pistorius arrives in Alaska
Pistorius is in Alaska ahead of a NATO summit in Washington to learn about the progress of Arctic Defender, a German-led multinational military exerciseImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius on Monday expressed his dissatisfaction with the outcome of the budget negotiations for the country's defense budget.

A coalition deal on next year's domestic budget provides less for the armed forces in 2025 than Pistorius had demanded as Germany seeks to beef up its armed forces.

What the minister said

"Yes, I got significantly less than I registered for. That is annoying for me because I cannot initiate certain things at the speed that the historic turning point and threatening situation require," said Pistorius, who attended the Arctic Defender 2024 exercise in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The historic turning point refers to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announcing a "Zeitenwende" — German for a historic turning point  just days after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

That included a €100-billion special fund to bring the military back up to the desired level of readiness.

"We will see what happens in the next few weeks and months. I have to adapt to it and make the best of it."

Germany presents plan to boost military reserves

'Special responsibility to assume'

While the struck on Friday may not have met Pistorius's hopes, it still keeps German defense spending above the NATO target of 2% of gross domestic product. 

The defense minister had announced a need for around €58 billion, but the compromise in the budget only provides for around €53 billion. By 2028, however, the defense budget is set to increase to about €80 billion — "more than ever before in Germany's history," Pistorius said.

"A lot is expected of Germany and rightly so," he said. "We are the largest economy in Europe, the largest NATO ally in Europe. We therefore have a special responsibility to assume, and we are doing so."

Top figures in the German military have warned that additional funds are needed immediately for Germany to be combat-ready in five years. By that time, they believe Russia could be capable of attacking NATO member-state territory.

Pistorius is due to attend the NATO summit in Washington, that marks 75th anniversary of the defense alliance, on Tuesday.

rc/lo (AFP, Reuters, dpa)