Germany's global power ambitions hit: new defense budget falls short
Germany will not be reaching defense spending of 2% of economic output this year nor the next despite earlier commitments
Berlin pulls a shocking U-turn on a previously introduced plan to increase military spending following the start of the war in Ukraine.
Germany earlier committed to raising defense spending to a minimum of 2% in what was considered a major policy shift to counter newly emerging threats including Russia.
Spokesperson of the German government Steffen Hebestreit announced to reporters that the country will not follow through in increasing the defense spending this year and probably in 2023.
Read more: How is Germany planning to rebuild its military?
Hebestreit said in the briefing that, "it's still open whether that [target] will be achieved” next year, stressing that his "cautious expectation" is that the spending goal would be achieved until 2025.
The statement comes as internal disapproval increases regarding the current state of Germany's military which is not up to the current world challenges and threats.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on February 27 this year, following the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, a drastic change in the country's defense and security policies, or a "Zeitenwende" (sea change) as per his expression.
“We will from now, year after year, invest more than 2 percent of gross domestic product invest in our defense,” he said then.
Germany faces several challenges, including antiquated equipment, a terrible administration, and disgruntled soldiers.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced earlier a special budget of €100 billion for the military, prompting questions about how this money will be used and whether other vital industries will suffer as a result. Since then, Germany's armaments industry has been buzzing about the government's impending spending spree.
Read more: Germans think their nation has done enough for Ukraine: WP
Earlier last week, German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht was heavily criticized by members of her own governmental bloc after it was revealed that she did not order enough ammo supplies although Germany has been suffering from shortages for a long while.
In what seemed to have elevated the current turmoil, POLITICO reported last week that the Ministry of Defense sent a confidential letter to officials stating the previously announced plan to purchase a batch of American F-35 by 2026 war jets is at risk of being hindered due to “delays and additional costs.”
The letter called plans to operate the first batch of the fighter jets "highly ambitious" due to work needed to be done to air force bases in addition to bureaucratic procedures that have been earlier delayed.
In short, Germany's image as a growing power and safety net for the EU is being impacted, Berlin can't afford to increase its influence on the international arena or the European one with subpar military power.
Earlier in November, it was revealed that Germany is already behind on its commitment of the 2% goal in 2023.
The shocking aspect, however, is that the current spending of €50 billion will be missed as well by €300 million, which accounts for nearly half of the €100 billion military spending that was announced earlier.
Read more: German parliament votes to fund army
Spox Hebestreit defended the current situation by blaming the slow and lengthy procurement process and delivery shortages.
“The chancellor and this government are determined to get as close as possible to the 2 percent target with the possibilities we have,” Hebestreit stated, arguing that “we’re making a massive effort,” and that the chancellor is pleased with the work being done by the minister of defense regardless of the procurement shortcomings.
It's noteworthy that Germany announced last May that it has decided to amend its constitution to allow for a credit-based special defense fund of €100 billion ($107.35 billion) proposed after Russia commenced its military action in Ukraine.
The funds will be utilized over several years to supplement Germany's annual defense budget of roughly €50 billion, allowing the country to reach the NATO aim of spending 2% of its GDP on defense each year.