BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Germany’s governing coalition and main opposition parties have reached an agreement to go ahead with a big increase in defense spending, announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz three months ago.
On February 24, three days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Scholz said Germany would give 100 billion euros ($107 billion) to a special fund for its military and increase its defense spending to above 2% of GDP, a measure he had worked on for a long time lagged behind
Scholz wanted to anchor the Special Fund in the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, which means they need support from the centre-right opposition Union Bloc.
The details were negotiated, but the two sides reached an agreement on Sunday night, clearing the way for the funds to be brought to parliament.
Among other things, funding for cyber defense and support for partner countries would come from Germany’s regular budget, not special funds, as proposed by some in the governing coalition. The Union Bloc wanted assurances that the funds would be used exclusively for the German army, the Bundeswehr. German defense spending will reach the 2% target “on a multi-year average”.
Scholz welcomed the agreement on Monday.
“The German Bundeswehr will be strengthened,” he told a trade fair in Hanover, news agency DPA reported. “It will be in a better position to fulfill its defense mission than ever before, and it will be able to contribute to NATO so that we can defend ourselves against external attacks at any time.”
“This will contribute to increased security for Germany and Europe,” Scholz said. “This is the correct answer to the turning point that began with Russia’s attack on Ukraine.”
NATO countries cut their military budgets in the 1990s after the Cold War, but were back in action when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. The Allies pledged to halt cuts and move toward spending at 2% of GDP by 2024. Germany attracted. Criticism, especially from the US under former President Donald Trump, for falling short of that goal.
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