BERLIN — After weeks of wrangling, Germany’s ruling coalition parties and the conservative opposition bloc agreed Sunday night on a special 100 billion euro fund for military armament in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The giant trust fund, which requires constitutional change and therefore bipartisan agreement to achieve a two-thirds majority in parliament, is a major pillar of the historic Zeitenwende change in German foreign and security policy that Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced at the end of February.
The money is supposed to modernize the chronically underfunded and under-equipped German army, the Bundeswehr, and help Berlin finally adhere to the NATO countries’ goal of devoting at least 2% of their economic output to the defense.
“The special fund is coming”, Scholz tweeted on Monday, adding that “with 100 billion euros, we are ensuring that the Bundeswehr can fulfill its defense mission better than ever. A big step for the security of Germany and Europe.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Defence, “the objective is to pass the bill [for the special fund] before the summer parliamentary recess.
However, the deal reached on Sunday evening fails to enshrine the 2% target in the German constitution – something the centre-right opposition had been pushing for – and instead says that target should be achieved “on an average multiannual”. which means that Germany could spend more than 2% in some years due to major military investments, but less in others.
One of the major investments Berlin plans to make with the 100 billion euros is the purchase of American F-35 stealth fighter jets, which could also carry American nuclear bombs under an old German commitment. decades to drop such bombs on Russia in the event of an attack. attack on the West.
Scholz’s government had offered the 100 billion euros as a special fund to separate it from the regular budget, which would allow Germany to formally stick to its own strict fiscal targets. Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the fiscally conservative Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) underline Monday that Germany’s so-called debt brake, the budget restriction enshrined in the Constitution, “will remain in place for all other projects.”
The main opposition bloc, made up of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and its smaller Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which the government needs to secure the support of the majority of two-thirds in parliament, also reported happiness with discovery.
“The democratic center sticks together! Consensus is possible.” said Johann Wadephul of the CDU, thanking Lindner in particular, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens and Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht of the Social Democrats (SPD), Scholz’s party.
Although the CDU and CSU fell short of their goal of enshrining a 2% annual defense spending commitment in the constitution, they did win a crucial concession: the full €100 billion cannot only be used specifically for the Bundeswehr.
Baerbock and the Greens had unsuccessfully sought to relax this wording to allow some of the money to also be used for foreign and development or cyber defense projects.