With the injection of billions for the operational capability of the German armed forces, it remains unclear for the time being exactly what the money will be spent on. But there is a dispute in Berlin about the way to finance it.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner continues to insist on an amendment to the Basic Law for the planned billion-euro financial injection for the Bundeswehr.

The FDP chairman thus rejected a move by SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich, who had spoken of alternatives such as suspending the debt brake. “It is not an option for the Bundeswehr to bypass the debt brake with a simple majority,” said Lindner of the German Press Agency. He specifically proposed a special fund in the Basic Law so that the character of the debt brake itself remains intact. “A softening would be constitutionally questionable and politically impossible to do with the FDP,” emphasized the party leader.

Special program over 100 billion euros

The federal government wants to strengthen the Bundeswehr with the special program worth 100 billion euros and thus close equipment gaps. The special fund is to be anchored in the Basic Law, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag and Bundesrat – so the CDU/CSU opposition must be brought on board. However, the Union has set conditions for approval. What is controversial is exactly what the money should be spent on.

Mützenich had told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” that if the Union did not agree to an amendment to the Basic Law, there were other ways for the planned billion-euro program. “If Germany is in an emergency situation, Article 115 allows borrowing with a simple majority.” Article 115 sets a credit limit for the federal budget. An exception was recently approved because of the Corona crisis.

Greens back original proposal

The Greens, on the other hand, continue to rely on the original proposal of the traffic light parties. “The goal remains a special fund through a change in the Basic Law,” said party leader Ricarda Lang in Berlin. “Our goal remains that this proposal will ultimately be implemented with a constitution-amending majority.”

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai told the dpa that solid public finances are extremely important in times of crisis. “Taking action with the debt brake to put pressure on the CDU and CSU on the question of the special fund is not expedient and will not receive the support of the FDP,” he said. “The poor state of the Bundeswehr bears the signature of the Union. I therefore assume that the Union parties will also face up to their historical responsibility.”

In the struggle for the planned special fund, the Union is prepared to flexibly handle the target of two percent defense spending without giving it up. Union faction Vice Mathias Middelberg (CDU) said on ARD: “We have no slavish idea, it has to be two percent every year.” And: “This magnitude must be achieved roughly and over a period of several years, so what NATO also describes in terms of content with NATO capability goals must be achieved in the long term.”

Mutzenich’s warning that the better equipment of the Bundeswehr could also be decided without the Union was rejected by Middelberg. “It’s a threat that I don’t take seriously,” he said. “Firstly because it is extremely difficult legally. And I also believe that it would not be the wise signal politically. The Chancellor (Olaf Scholz, SPD) has given two wise goals, and we should now implement them together.”