First reading in the Bundestag: When it comes to special assets, there is a lot to talk about

Status: 04/27/2022 04:47 am

The Federal Government wants to modernize the Bundeswehr with a special fund of 100 billion euros. The project is becoming more concrete, today is the first reading in the Bundestag. Which points traffic lights and opposition are still arguing about.

By Oliver Neuroth, ARD Capital Studio

The 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr are part of the turning point announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the end of February. Three days after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, he said: “We must invest significantly more in the freedom of our country in order to protect our freedom and our democracy in this way.”

Because Scholz is clear: In recent years, too much has been saved in the Bundeswehr. Again and again, the troupe makes headlines with poorly or non-functioning equipment. To change that, the government wants to take on additional debt.

At the end of February, Chancellor Scholz announced that he would make the Bundeswehr fit with a special fund.

Image: dpa

Financed on credit

The 100 billion euros will be financed entirely on credit. Finance Minister Christian Lindner wants it that way. According to him, new loans are the only way to raise the special fund.

Higher taxes as an alternative are out of the question for him, said Lindner at the FDP party conference last weekend: “We will then be in a position to make the Bundeswehr the most capable, most modernly equipped army in Europe.”

A plan that the Union cannot oppose in principle. Equipping the troops with many billions is what the CDU and CSU often wanted, but were unable to achieve in the coalitions under their leadership.

Union cannot agree yet

But the Union is slowly taking on the role of opposition leader and doesn’t want to simply wave government projects through. And that is why parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz says about the planning of the special fund: “In our view, the way it is now, it cannot be approved. However, we still believe that it is worth talking to the coalition about the topic. But we are We are still a long way from an agreement.”

The Union’s main point of criticism: clear regulations are needed as to how and when the loans are to be repaid. CSU regional group chief Alexander Dobrindt adds: “For us it is crucial that these 100 billion are available exclusively for the Bundeswehr, exclusively for defense. That is not yet certain. But we are continuing to negotiate in this sense.”

The government assures that the money is only intended for the Bundeswehr. She even wants to enshrine the purpose of the special fund in the Basic Law. And that’s exactly what the Union needs for this: The traffic light coalition can only achieve the necessary two-thirds majority in the Bundestag with votes from its parliamentary group.

Union faction leader Merz does not yet consider the federal government’s plans to be acceptable.

Image: dpa

FDP angry about CDU/CSU

The FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Chairwoman of the Defense Committee, is annoyed that the CDU/CSU are opposing themselves here: “I think we should really stop playing these games now. Above all, a Union that has been Federal Minister of Defense for 16 years should now be constructive, because the broken pieces that we are now sweeping up were created on the basis of the Union.”

For Strack-Zimmermann it is clear: the renewal of the Bundeswehr must be initiated as quickly as possible. Because the specific deficits have been known for a long time. The troops need new combat aircraft, a successor to the “Tornado”. Many of the machines are now more than 40 years old and spare parts are hardly available. The F-35 stealth jet from the US manufacturer Lockheed, the most modern combat aircraft in the world, is to move up.

In addition, the new transport helicopter from Boeing is to come. 27 billion are earmarked for “modern aircraft” and 40 billion for the air force in general. The army is to be modernized for 17 billion, and the navy for 10 billion. In general, new ammunition and communication technology are also needed.

“Huge tax waste”

“We think that’s a gigantic waste of taxes,” says Dietmar Bartsch, leader of the Left Party. He points to structural deficiencies in the Bundeswehr, such as bureaucratic hurdles when procuring new equipment. This is where you have to start and only then talk about spending money, he demands.

His party will probably find similar words in the Bundestag debate today, while the government is defending its project. Although today it remains with words. The important vote on the amendment to the Basic Law and the special fund itself will take place later. By then, the traffic light coalition hopes to have the Union on its side.

100 billion for the Bundeswehr: The Bundestag advises on the special fund

Oliver Neuroth, ARD Berlin, April 27, 2022 4:47 a.m

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