The new Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) said in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" that the 100 billion euros in special funds for the Bundeswehr will not be enough - although around 50 billion euros are invested in the defense budget every year. Where does the money go in the Bundeswehr? A look at the military budgets of the past few years.
The defense budget of the Federal Republic has been increasing since 2014. While the federal government invested 32.4 billion euros in the Bundeswehr in 2014, the defense budget has been rising steadily since then and reached a total of 50.33 billion euros in 2022. The defense budget made the biggest jump from 2018 (38.5 billion euros) to 2019 (43.2 billion euros) – an increase of 12.2 percent. In 2022, the Bundeswehr spent more than 50 billion euros a year. "The increase is a step-by-step progress towards the political target of two percent of gross domestic product decided at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014," says the Bundeswehr website. "An important indicator of the 'turnaround in finance' are the increasing resources for armaments investments in order to clear the investment backlog of the past few years and to be able to maintain and further develop military capabilities."
In the 2021 defense budget, operating expenses are the largest item at around 25.8 billion euros (54.9 percent). This includes personnel expenses, expenses for material maintenance and other operating expenses - such as property management, supplies, business needs. Personnel costs are the largest item in operating expenses at 13.2 billion euros, followed by "other operating expenses" (8.02 billion euros) and material maintenance (4.53 billion euros). The second largest item in 2021 is investments: 10.3 billion euros will go into the armament of the Bundeswehr, of which almost 8.7 billion will go into procurement and around 1.7 billion into research and testing of weapon systems. The Bundeswehr will invest a good 1.4 billion euros in construction measures in 2021. In total, the troops will have 46.93 billion euros at their disposal in 2021.
The 2022 defense budget also includes an increase in spending – especially since it was decided after the outbreak of war in Ukraine – to 50.4 billion euros. According to the Defense Minister at the time, Christine Lambrecht (SPD), it was a "solid basis" but "far too little money to deal with the omissions".
For this purpose, the Bundestag then decided on the "special fund", from which the Bundeswehr will receive 8.4 billion euros in 2023 in addition to the regular 50.1 billion euros in the defense budget. In the regular Bundeswehr budget for 2023, the amount provided for the purchase of ammunition has been increased to more than 1.1 billion euros.
"The special fund for the Bundeswehr is a unique opportunity to close the big gaps in decades of savings. We will seize it to modernize our armed forces quickly and effectively and to equip them for the future in accordance with their mission," said Lambrecht, according to the Federal Ministry of Defense. "In order to close the gaps of the past few years, investments are being made in the equipment of the Bundeswehr - especially in the areas of capability maintenance, development and digitization," writes the Ministry of Defense on its website. "For military procurement, defense research, development and testing, around 9.6 billion euros will be available for the year 2023 in the individual plan 14 (the defense budget, ed.). This means that, for example, the procurement of further large-capacity transport aircraft of the type A400M be invested in. The continued procurement of the Eurofighter or fleet service boats of class 424 is also secured."
This task now falls to her successor Boris Pistorius, although Lambrecht has already made a number of decisions: F35 combat aircraft, CH-47 heavy transport helicopters, personal protective equipment for soldiers, Puma armored personnel carriers and four 126 frigates will be purchased from the special fund.
"Germany wants to increase its spending on security and defense to 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product by 2024. In the long term, the NATO target (annual defense spending of two percent of GDP) should be achieved," says the website of the Federal Ministry of Defense . With a gross domestic product of 3867 billion euros in 2022, that would have been 77.34 billion euros. So more than one and a half times as much as the Bundestag approved for 2022. Depending on Germany's economic development, the Bundeswehr can also count on significantly more money in 2024.
Sources: Boris Pistorius in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (paid content), defense budget 2021, "trend reversal in finance" on "bundeswehr.de", "defense budget 2022 decided" on bmvg.de, decision on special assets 2023 on bmvg.de,