BERLIN — So much for Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende

The German government on Wednesday stepped back at the last minute from making a legal commitment to meeting NATO’s target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense on an annual basis, according to Reuters and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. 

A government official told the news agency that a clause pledging to meet the target was deleted at short notice from Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s draft of a new budget financing law, just before the Cabinet passed it to the parliament.

Instead, the government pledges to meet the 2 percent target on average over a five-year period, as already set out in the recently published National Security Strategy. 

Annalena Baerbock’s Foreign Office had opposed setting the 2 percent target in law, as desired by the Defense Ministry, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

A spokesperson for the government declined to comment to Reuters on the details of the bill.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the Zeitenwende, a new dawn in Germany’s security policy.

“From now on, we will invest more than 2 percent of the GDP into our defense year after year,” Scholz said in February 2022. He renewed this promise after last month’s NATO summit in Vilnius. 

For many years, Germany was criticized by NATO partners, especially the United States, for not sticking to NATO’s requirement on defense spending. 

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