defense budget

A Boost in German Military Spending

jet-falk bärwald-dpa
Many Bundeswehr fighter jets are grounded for repair.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s military, long underfunded compared to many of its European neighbors, hopes to get a significant spending upgrade over the coming years to upgrade its hardware.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Germany currently spends about €35 billion a year on the Bundeswehr, less than the 2 percent of GDP recommended by members in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
    • The €130-billion increase requested would amount to €8.7 billion a year, or 25 percent based on 2016 spending levels.
    • The number of soldiers in the German forces has declined in recent years to 168,277 in 2015 from 188,500 in 2005.
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    Audio

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With Germany’s federal budget overflowing, and the finance ministry thinking about ways to spend the spoils, Germany’s defense minister is hoping to get a major piece of the pie.

Ursula von der Leyen has asked a Bundestag parliamentary committee to approve an extra €130 billion ($140 billion) in military spending over 15 years to modernize the nation’s battle readiness and boost staffing.

Ms. von der Leyen said Germany’s military is underfunded and lacks the ability to participate in international operations and NATO missions. The country currently spends about €35 billion a year on the Bundeswehr, less than the 2 percent of GDP that the trans-Atlantic NATO alliance wants its members to spend annually.

The increase requested by Ms. von der Leyen, if approved, would amount to roughly €8.7 billion a year in additional military spending. It marks a boost, based on 2016 spending levels, of about 25 percent.

“If we look at the missions that the armed forces have, then they also need appropriate equipment,” Ms. von der Leyen told reporters on Wednesday.

She’s hardly the only German minister looking to get more funding. The country will need to spend tens of billions to deal with an influx of more than 1 million refugees into Germany last year. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who also heads the center-left Social Democratic Party, this week presented his own proposal for a €600-billion increase in infrastructure spending over the next decade.

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