Germany pledges steady defence spending as it extends navy missions

Germany will extend its participation in two European Union navy missions, the country’s Cabinet decided on Wednesday, as Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged defence spending would remain steady despite the pandemic.

The Cabinet agreed to commit German forces to the EU operation Irini in the Mediterranean, as well as the anti-piracy operation Atalanta, until April 2022.

Germany is to continue to provide 300 soldiers, a vessel and a reconnaissance aircraft to Irini, which aims to implement a UN arms embargo in war-torn Libya in support of the peace process there.

The Cabinet, however, reduced the cap on soldiers for Atalanta – which helps protect ships from pirates along the horn of Africa, among other things – from 400 to 300.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kramp-Karrenbauer told local media that Germany would not cut military spending despite the huge burden of the coronavirus pandemic on state coffers.

“The state has the core duty to ensure the security of its citizens – independently of the budget situation,” she told newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung.

The Bundeswehr has to “fill holes in existing capacities caused by decades of saving” and “at the same time brace for real threats like drones, hypersonic weapons or cyberattacks,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

NATO member Germany has repeatedly been criticized for its chronically underfunded military by fellow members of the alliance.

For 2021, Germany has submitted a record figure to NATO, with 51.6 billion euros (61.4 billion dollars), equivalent to 1.56 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

This is still below the NATO requirement of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence.

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