(Bloomberg) – Chancellor Olaf Schulz is fighting to get Germany off the ground to increase its military strength.
In February, the 63-year-old chancellor pledged to end decades of military aid with a debt-financed 100 billion euro ($ 105 billion) defense package, breaking the principles that German foreign policy has long rested on since World War II.
But since then, Schulz has been criticized by the Kiev government for slowing arms supplies and upholding EU sanctions on Russian energy imports. Now even his defense is facing upgrade headwind.
In addition to his center-left coalition government’s vote, Scholes needs the support of major opposition conservatives to reach the two-thirds majority needed to create new funds in the German constitution. But a vote had to be postponed this Friday because the parties could not agree on how the money should be spent. It is not clear when the talks will take place.
Although the fund itself is probably not under threat, it could not pass the lower house of parliament, or the Bundestag, until early next month. Anything like weakness or division among the countries supporting Ukraine would encourage Vladimir Putin.
Scholes defended his plan in the Bundestag on Thursday and called for unity. “Special funds guarantee the independence and security of our country in these difficult times,” he said. “It’s also a clear message to friends and allies: yes, we want to take it seriously when we talk about support and joint defense responsibilities.”
Tensions within Scholz’s own coalition became apparent during a parliamentary defense committee hearing last Friday. Marcus Faber, a pro-business FDP lawmaker who questioned the Chancellor about his Ukraine policy, came out of the house – and went straight to the first TV camera.
“Unfortunately, many of our questions have not been answered,” he said. “So we as Liberal Democrats decided to leave this meeting after 9 am.”
Faber later apologized for his outrage, and his party is clearly supporting the coalition plan for special funding.
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The fund means more than 2% of GDP to increase Germany’s annual defense spending, and will be paid for outside the regular budget.
Greens, motivated by gains in regional elections when Scholes’ own Socialist Democrat party suffered losses, wants to include cyber defense in the package, with a small portion of the money going to the State Department instead of the defense ministry. .
Disappointment was evident at a recent cabinet meeting. Scholes was accusing Frederick Marge, the leader of the main opposition Conservatives, of being opportunistic in planning a trip to Kyiv, and former Green Party vice-chancellor Robert Habeck called him incompetent.
“I would do the same,” Habeck was quoted as saying by the German media.
Habek later publicly expressed support for Merge’s visit and made it clear that he hoped the government would follow suit. Although Analina Barebok, a former Green Party leader who is now Foreign Minister, has traveled to Ukraine, Scholes has not yet visited.
At an internal meeting on Wednesday, Bearback argued that 2.5 billion euros from the defense fund should be used for non-military purposes. He suggested that the package should not be approved immediately, according to one participant who declined to be named because the discussions were confidential. A Defense Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The Greens deny that they are responsible for postponing the vote and reduce tensions. Instead, officials from both parties say the CDU-led Conservative bloc is opposed to the package and is spreading rumors of a coalition split because it does not want to see the plan scrapped.
Merge said his team would support Scholes if he stood by his initial commitment to 100 billion euros in military projects.
Scholes and Merz opposed the delay during the Bundestag debate on Thursday. “Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either,” he said. “The resistance is not coming from us. It’s coming from your own government caucus. “
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