Germany Approves Record-Breaking Arms Exports
This year arms exports have exceeded 2015’s record highs. This could lead to problems in the coalition.
After a three-year decline, arms exports approved by Germany’s government reached a new apogee in 2019. The previous record mark of 2015 was exceeded by December 15, with €7.95 billion. Compared to the previous year, it is an increase of 65 percent. The most extensive deliveries by far were approved with €1.77 billion for the EU and NATO partner Hungary, ahead of Egypt (€802 million) and the USA (€483 million).
The figures are based on answers from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to inquiries from members of the Bundestag Sevim Dagdelen (Left) and Omid Nouripour (Greens). After the record year of 2015 with export permits worth €7.86 billion, there had been a continuous downward trend.
Since the beginning of 2019, however, the trend has been reversed again. At €5.3 billion, export permits already exceeded those of all of 2018. Economics Minister Altmaier (CDU) justified this with the prolonged stalemate in the formation of the government after the 2017 election, which had caused a decision backlog.
Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Ulrich Nussbaum points out in one of the two answers that “the sum of the approval values of a reporting period alone is not a suitable yardstick for a specific arms export policy.” The type of goods exported, and the intended use would have to be taken into account. The range goes from mine clearance equipment and medical vehicles to battle tanks and warships.
However, the Federal Government does not provide detailed information about individual transactions in order to prevent conclusions about the purchase prices. Therefore, a comprehensive evaluation of the statistics is hardly possible. Nussbaum emphasizes that the Federal Government continues to pursue a “restrictive and responsible arms export policy.”
Left member Sevim Dagdelen sees it differently. “These dramatic figures show that the entire export control system simply does not work,” she says and reaffirms the Left’s call for an arms export ban.
Greens member Katja Keul also complained that the sharp rise after all the announcements of a more restrictive export policy could hardly be explained. “We finally need an arms export control law that obliges the federal government to provide a foreign and security policy justification for its decisions.”
However, the arms export record should not go down well in the SPD either. The new party leadership of Eskens and Borjans has stated it would seek restraint in foreign and defense policy. The SPD’s Bundestag faction passed a position paper shortly before Christmas, which aims for further drastic restriction of arms exports.