German defence minister not ready to compromise on 2025 budget demand

By Thomson Reuters May 22, 2024 | 10:03 AM

PABRADE TRAINING GROUND, LITHUANIA, (Reuters) – German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Wednesday he was not prepared to lower his demands for the 2025 defence budget or accept a compromise right now.

Speaking during a visit to Pabrade training ground in Lithuania, he told reporters he would neither disclose his negotiating strategy in talks with the finance minister nor send any signal whether he saw room for compromise.

“I am not prepared to do either,” he said, responding to a question whether he might step back from his demand of topping up the 2025 defence budget by 6.7 billion euros ($7.3 billion).

Due to the spending requests from ministries, the ruling coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) will hold further talks on next year’s budget.

Germany has for years been criticized for spending too little on defence, effectively relying on the United States to underpin its security despite being Europe’s biggest economy.

A 100 billion euro special fund created to modernise the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 will be exhausted in 2028 at the latest.

Pistorius argues, however, that the German military will need more money before then, or risk procurement being paralysed as there is little funding left for investment.

Despite tricky negotiations, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said he still expects the cabinet to approve a first draft of the budget on July 3 before it goes to the lower house of parliament in September.

($1 = 0.9230 euros)

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; editing by Matthias Williams and Mark Potter)