After several weeks of discussions, the government and the conservative opposition in Germany reached an agreement on Sunday evening May 29 to modernize the national army in the face of the Russian threat.

This compromise will make it possible to fulfill the promise made by Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the end of February after the outbreak of the Moscow One Ukraine offensive: to release 100 billion euros to rearm the country over the next few years and modernize the Bundeswehr, whose equipment is obsolete.

These 100 billion will be paid into a “special fund”, outside the national budget, which will be financed by additional debt. This involved circumventing the rules enshrined in the national constitution, known as the “debt brake”, which strictly limit the possibility of budget deficits. The government therefore needed the support of the main opposition force, the CDU/CSU canners, because it needed a two-thirds majority in Parliament to pass this exception.

At the same time, Berlin will be able to achieve the target set by NATO of devoting 2% of national GDP per year to defence. This objective will be achieved “on average over several years”, according to the text of the agreement obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Reversal of size

Negotiations lasted several weeks between the coalition – social democrats, ecologists and liberals – and the conservative political family of former chancellor Angela Merkel. Not only on the question of the use of the money, but also on that of the policy towards Ukraine, over which the government and the opposition have been clashing for weeks. The conservatives particularly criticize the Social Democratic Chancellor for the timidity of his support for kyiv in the face of Russia, in terms of arms deliveries.

The release of 100 billion euros for the national army constitutes a major reversal for Germany, which in recent years has been dragging its feet to comply with the commitments of the Atlantic Alliance in this area, regularly attracting wrath the United States.

Germany, since the end of the Cold War, has significantly reduced the size of its army, from around 500,000 people when the country was reunified in 1990 to just 200,000 today. In addition, military officials regularly complain of breakdowns in their fighter planes, warships or tanks. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine acted as an electric shock.