Why FRG raises defence spending
Berlin’s Council presidency next year would be an opportunity to ‘develop the European Defense Union,’ the CDU chief says. Speaking at her swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer — who takes over from Ursula von der Leyen, who resigned from the German government ahead of her election as European Commission president — also reiterated her commitment to raising Berlin's defense spending to the NATO target of 2 percent, Politico writes in the article New German minister Kramp-Karrenbauer aims to develop EU defense integration.
"We want to make Europe strong, including regarding concrete military capabilities ... With next year's presidency of the Council, we will have the opportunity to further develop the European Defense Union, as we planned to do in the coalition treaty," Kramp-Karrenbauer told German lawmakers at the ceremony, referring to the coalition agreement between her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).
The framework, agreed last year, features a passage on strengthening the German Bundeswehr forces as well as "European defense structures," including a pledge to take "further steps on the road to a European army." Germany holds the Council presidency for the second half of 2020.
Kramp-Karrenbauer — who also serves as CDU leader — told German media last year that she favored establishing a European army, arguing such a step would "make sense." But she did not go into details, neither then nor in Wednesday's speech. In her speech, she stressed that while she advocated strengthening European defense capabilities, Germany would remain "firmly anchored in the transatlantic alliance ... NATO is the guarantor of our security." She also promised that Germany would raise its defense spending to 2 percent, the NATO target, a comment that earned her boos from the audience.
Germany currently spends about 1.2 percent of its average GDP on defense, prompting criticism from its allies — in particular from U.S. President Donald Trump.
When Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged to meet the 2-percent goal in an interview this weekend, she was swiftly faced with a backlash from the Social Democrats, who have made no secret of their opposition to any increase in the country's defense budget. Lars Klingbeil, the SPD's secretary-general, accused Kramp-Karrenbauer of wanting to "first of all do Mr. Trump a favor."
"In order to live well and safely in Germany in the future, we need an operational Bundeswehr," she said. "For a long time — perhaps too long — we believed that the world around us would become ever more peaceful, that the order would become ever more stable. Developments in recent years have shown that this was a deceptive image."