On the special fund “Bundeswehr”
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On the special fund “Bundeswehr”

Two weeks ago, the German Federal Cabinet passed the draft law for the establishment of a special fund „Bundeswehr“ worth 100 billion euro and the draft of a corresponding amendment to the Grundgesetz (Basic Law). This is intended to fulfill the Federal Chancellor’s promise to provide the Bundeswehr with sufficient funds for armament and equipment in the future.

Translated, „special assets“ means: 100 billion euro more debt for the federal government and a renewed circumvention of the debt brake of the Grundgesetz. In view of the situation of the Bundeswehr and above all as a reaction to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the Bundeswehr must now in fact be better equipped and new weapon systems must be purchased. But is that only possible with new debt? And is the path of a “special fund” the only conceivable one?

As a reminder: In his government statement of 27 March, three days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Federal Chancellor declared in the Bundestag: „From now on we will invest more than two percent of GDP in our defence every year.“ That was the crucial sentence of his government statement on the equipment of the Bundeswehr. The defence budget is currently around 50 billion euro a year. Two percent of GDP is a good 70 billion euro. So, we are talking about an annual coverage gap of around 20 billion euro!

In purely arithmetical terms, the envisaged “special fund” would therefore suffice for just five years to adequately finance the Bundeswehr. The traffic light coalition has decided not to shake the 50 billion in the defence budget and to finance necessary purchases exclusively from the „special fund“. This would mean that by 2027 at the latest we would be in the same dilemma as we are today, namely a structurally underfunded Bundeswehr.

The statement by the Federal Chancellor will only be credible if the current defence budget in the federal budget continues to grow from now on. However, there does not seem to be a consensus on this in the German government coalition. With the „special fund“ some purchases and equipment will certainly be possible, but permanently two percent looks quite different.

The war against Ukraine will demand a great deal of effort from us. Large parts of the coalition agreement would actually have to be rewritten, in addition to the defence, almost all assumptions of the energy transition are being put to the test. The discussion about a “special fund” for the Bundeswehr can and will only be the beginning.

24 February 2022 is indeed the date of a turning point. But all of us will only slowly understand its full dimension!