100 billion euros for upgrading the Bundeswehr, two percent of the economic power for defense every year, weapons for Ukraine’s defensive fight against Russia: A good three months ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz heralded a turning point in German foreign and security policy with these announcements in the Bundestag .
When Parliament meets on Wednesday for the general debate on the federal budget, the chancellor and opposition will also take stock of the announcements made at the time. Scholz has delivered a lot, but not enough for some in the opposition. The general debate will deal with these questions:
The chancellor is particularly pleased that the coalition, after a long struggle, was able to agree on the amendment to the Basic Law for the 100 billion program for the Bundeswehr before the general debate with the CDU/CSU. At the EU summit in Brussels he was able to boast about it on Monday and Tuesday. With the rearmament program, the Bundeswehr will “be able to make a much greater contribution to common security not only for Germany, but for Europe,” emphasized Scholz. “The Bundeswehr will probably then be the largest conventional army within the framework of NATO, here in Europe at least.” That means a big change, “which we also absolutely want”.
But Scholz also has to deal with resentment in his own ranks, which not everyone can hide anymore. Juso boss Jessica Rosenthal wrote in a “Spiegel” article that she was “not ready to agree to an amendment to the Basic Law because we lack the courage for a real reform of our budgetary policy”. For this, she traded a rebuke from her parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich. The nervousness is great. Voting will take place on Friday.
Immediately after the war began, Scholz broke a taboo: since then, German weapons have been supplied to an ongoing war against a nuclear power. Panzerfaust, anti-aircraft missiles, many millions of rounds of ammunition. But what about heavy weapons like tanks or artillery pieces? Scholz has made two commitments: 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks and 7 Panzerhaubitzen 2000 – modern artillery pieces with a range of 40 kilometers – are to be delivered to the Ukraine. But they are not there yet. Ukrainian soldiers are still being trained for self-propelled howitzers, and ammunition had to be found for the Gepard tanks.
The other question is: will there be further pledges for heavy arms supplies? Ukraine continues to have a long wish list. Scholz has made it clear that he does not want to be impressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warnings about further arms deliveries from the West. Germany will “support Ukraine for as long as it is necessary,” he said on Monday on ARD.
While the chancellor is speaking in the Bundestag, thousands of passengers will be traveling in buses and trains at a new cheap tariff, which is intended to cushion the energy prices, which have risen sharply in the wake of the war. The 9-euro ticket for the month of June has been valid since this Wednesday, midnight. Also in July and August you will be able to use local transport at this monthly rate. At the same time, the energy tax is falling so that fuel prices are cheaper.
Other reliefs that have already been decided are the elimination of the so-called EEG surcharge for the promotion of wind and solar energy, a 100-euro bonus to child benefit and the energy flat-rate of 300 euros for employed persons. Is there more to come? Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) made a first surcharge at the weekend with his “social climate money” for people with a gross income of up to 4000 euros – and got into trouble with Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP).