German finance minister calls for budget cuts, defense department exempted

photo-caption">Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner during a visit by Bundeswehr soldiers deployed in Mali in February. Lindner sees no room for higher defense spending in the coming financial year.
picture alliance / photothek/Leon Kuegeler

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) wants to cut federal government spending.

Lindner sent corresponding letters to all federal ministries with requests to reduce their own spending.

According to Business Insider, only the Department of Defense will not have to make any cuts. However, there is no more money either – a fact that the opposition clearly criticizes.

Christian Lindner (FDP) wants to save. Negotiations for the federal government’s budget for the coming year are still ongoing, but the finance minister has now called on his colleagues in the cabinet to make budget cuts in internal government letters. All departments should cut spending.

All but one. According to information from Business Insider, Lindner’s defense department, led by Boris Pistorius (SPD), was not asked to make extra savings.

In his letter to the Ministry of Defense, however, Lindner is said to have made it clear that there will be no additional funds, for example for the procurement of weapon systems and armaments projects. All expenses should therefore be covered by the Bundeswehr special fund.

It’s a view that shouldn’t meet with enthusiasm in the Bendler block.

Bundeswehr special fund is not enough

Because it is already in question whether the Bundeswehr special fund is sufficient to implement all procurement procedures considered necessary for the modernization of the Bundeswehr. In the case of Puma tanks, for example, the money allocated from the special fund was not sufficient to finance the purchase of all the units required.

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Rising raw material prices, tense supply chains, a lack of market availability and bureaucratic hurdles are also causing the costs of armaments projects to rise – most recently, for example, for the heavy transport helicopter, for which the price for the procurement of 60 Chinooks rose by one billion euros. Defense Minister Pistorius is therefore demanding ten billion euros more for the 2024 budget year.

And the opposition is also critical of Lindner’s budget cap for the defense department.

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“The Bundeswehr is already practically broke today”

Ingo Gaedechens, the Union budget politician responsible for the Ministry of Defense in the Bundestag, tells Business Insider: “The Bundeswehr is already practically bankrupt. All eyes are on the 2024 budget – if significantly more money is not finally made available, the dams will break in many areas.”

It is therefore correct that Pistorius is demanding more money for the coming year. “This is not a luxury requirement, but the minimum to maintain operations and to strengthen the Bundeswehr’s capabilities,” says Gaedechens. If the defense budget remained at around 50 billion euros in 2024, it would affect the substance of the troops. “Holding on to the 50 billion euros is actually a massive austerity course for the Bundeswehr.”

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2023-06-06 02:55:00
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