German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Thursday that the German government intends to take NATO defence spending targets seriously.
In a visit to Latvia, Lindner and his Latvian counterpart, Finance Minister Arvils Ašeradens, both pledged further support for Ukraine in its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion.
NATO declarations have called on member countries to spend at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, a goal Germany has fallen well short of since the end of the Cold War.
Lindner suggested further government budget cuts could be ahead in Berlin, but that defence spending must be prioritized over other areas. The German government projects that it will meet the 2% target next year.
“These are big challenges, because this is where our budgets will have to be restructured in the coming years. This also leads to competition between different good intentions,” Lindner said.
“But we have to set a priority now: That is to strengthen our alliance and national defence capability,” he added.
Germany created a €100 billion ($107 billion) special fund to address major shortcomings in its military after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. But Lindner pledged that Germany would meet the 2% target even after that fund is exhausted.
Lindner said that level of spending is an important prerequisite for ensuring that Germany has “a very large, capable army and can also make its contribution to alliance defence as a whole.”