Several "basic projects" may have to be scrapped unless the German military is given additional funds, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, warned on Wednesday.
The designated €1.7 billion ($1.87 billion) budget hike in 2020 was "good news," she told lawmakers in the Bundestag. However, it would "not be sufficient," without subsequent increases.
The projects at risk
In her first budget speech in Parliament as defense minister, Kramp-Karrenbauer said that soldiers who "risked life and limb" deserved the "best equipment." But projects that would not be affordable included:
- Night vision goggles;
- a successor to the Tornado fighter jet;
- a joint venture with Norway to acquire new submarines.
The acquisition of a heavy life helicopter, and a German battleship were singled out as projects which were able to be supported. In addition, it is likely the money will also be spent on the continued digitalization of the German armed forces.
Kramp-Karrenbauer laid out the new direction that she hoped to take Germany in her role as defense minister, calling for a new a more forthright and decisive role in its foreign policy and as part of defense organizations.
"Germany cannot and should not step back from playing a prominent role in the world," she said. "The country should not let decisions be taken over our heads which go against our own interests in particular the money for the security and foreign policy."
Furthermore, she added that threats around the world were growing, singling out Syria, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Iran as creating a volatile defense picture in the world from which Germany needed to protect itself and other nations.
The extra budget next year would also contribute to international military exercises and operations, such as the German army's contribution to the current peace-keeping operation in Mali, she said.
How high is the defense budget?
The draft budget for 2020 envisages €44.9 billion for the defense ministry. That represents 1.37% of GDP. However, NATO has put out repeated calls for defense spending to rise to 2% GDP from member nations' economies. Germany's percentage still remains low compared with other, often much smaller and poorer nations such as Lithuania. In 2019, Germany's defense budget was just 1.2% of GDP.
What are future projections?
According to finance ministry projections, the defense budget will drop steadily to €44 billion by 2023, leaving the "NATO quota" at just 1.24% of GDP. Kramp-Karrenbauer said Germany had "committed itself" to meeting NATO requirements and urged defense spending to move back towards the 2% mark.
kmm/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters)