NewsGermany's defense spending challenge amid NATO commitments

Germany's defense spending challenge amid NATO commitments

Olaf Scholz's headache. Germany may have a problem with defense spending as part of NATO.
Olaf Scholz's headache. Germany may have a problem with defense spending as part of NATO.
Images source: © via Getty Images | SeanGallup
1:29 PM EDT, March 21, 2024

Germany may face challenges in maintaining defense spending above the NATO target, an endeavor that could necessitate easing debt restrictions, according to Bloomberg.

Following Russia's full-scale incursion into Ukraine, Germany's military budget reached $107 billion. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has assured that Germany will continue to meet NATO spending requirements even after 2027, when the allocated fund could be depleted. Yet, it remains uncertain how Berlin will secure the necessary financing.

"The debt brake is hampering crucial investments for our future," stated SPD co-chair Lars Klingbeil, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Meeting the 2 percent GDP goal for defense

The current fiscal framework, established in response to the 2008 financial crisis, allows annual net borrowing to cap at 0.35 percent of GDP, barring natural disasters or other emergencies.

"Changing these constitutionally enshrined rules would need two-thirds parliamentary support, a scenario highly improbable under present conditions," Bloomberg points out.

The opposition is against hiking the debt, though Economy Minister Robert Habeck from the Greens has not dismissed the idea. The Vice Chancellor is advocating for "more pragmatism" in the approach of his political adversaries.

Habeck argues that increasing the debt ratio by one percentage point, equivalent to an additional $43 billion, is negligible when comparing a debt ratio of 63 percent versus 64 percent.

This consideration gains significance as the bulk of the military fund has been utilized. Notably, in 2024, Germany will meet the NATO defense spending target for the first time in 18 years.

Research by the German Press Agency indicates that the federal government's defense budget for this year is set at a historic high of $73.41 billion. According to the most recent NATO estimates, this will result in a defense expenditure ratio of 2.01 percent of Germany's GDP.

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