Germany is set to make a “quantum leap” by approving a massive military fund on Friday. MPs are expected to approve €100 billion of spending to strengthen German forces with a huge procurement drive.
The move, which is expected to be widely supported in the Bundestag, was prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the spending spree as a “quantum leap” that would be greeted with “relief” in capitals across Europe. “Finally, they say, Germany is taking on the security policy responsibility that it has in the 21st century,” he said.
Officials openly acknowledge that the German military, or Bundeswehr, has suffered years of neglect and underfunding, with old, poorly functioning equipment.
A complete outline of how the money will be spent is yet to emerge, but the defence ministry says it will buy 60 Boeing-made Chinook CH-47F helicopters, while the government wants to buy up to 35 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet.
Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats and ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, which ran the country for 16 years, have blamed one another for the inadequate state of Germany’s military.
On February 27, just three days after Russia launched its military assault on Ukraine, Scholz announced more funding for the armed forces. Germany, he said, would now spend more than two per cent of its GDP on defence: a NATO target it has long missed.
The spending is expected to pass through the parliament’s lower house after Scholz’s governing coalition held lengthy negotiations with the main opposition Chrisitan Democrat bloc.
Scholz needs a two-thirds majority since the loans required for the spending are sanctioned by the constitution and don’t need to adhere to rules limiting new debt. The upper house of parliament will still need to approve the plan.