This week, the German Bundestag is debating the draft Federal budget for 2019. On Wednesday (12 September), Foreign Minister Maas presented the proposed Federal Foreign Office budget to Parliament. It reflects the increased foreign policy challenges that Germany is tackling in a turbulent world. The Government’s draft earmarks 5.57 billion euros for the Federal Foreign Office in 2019. This amounts to just under 1.6% of the Federal Budget.
Making Europe capable of conducting foreign policy
In his speech about the priorities of German foreign policy in the coming year, Foreign Minister Maas focused on what Germany is doing to strengthen Europe and to help maintain the rules-based international order.
No matter what challenge we face – whether it be in the area of economic, social or environmental and climate policy, or the question of migration –,
Foreign Minister Maas said, “no one in Europe will be able to find a satisfactory national answer. Rather, we will need a European solution.”
He went on to say that it is in the interest of the European Union to become “capable of conducting foreign policy” and to take on greater responsibility, for example for millions of people in crisis regions in Africa, as well as in the Near and Middle East.
An increased need for humanitarian aid
Through its participation in numerous international negotiation formats, Germany is working to prevent and contain conflicts in these and other regions. A strong focus of Germany’s current efforts is on preventing another humanitarian disaster in Syria and alleviating acute suffering.
Germany is already the second-largest donor of humanitarian aid in the context of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Foreign Minister Maas emphasised. The 2018 budget therefore earmarks nearly 1.8 billion euros for humanitarian assistance and crisis prevention – or roughly one third of the overall budget of approx. 5.45 billion euros.
Minister Maas also announced that Germany is ready to consider providing additional humanitarian aid, among other things to fill gaps that arise when other donors pull funding from international organisations. He went on to say that this financial support specifically helps strengthen the rules-based international order and its institutions.
Traditionally, the Minister uses the presentation of his Ministry’s budget to give an overview of the current challenges facing German foreign policy and the priorities of the Federal Foreign Office’s work in the coming year. These political priorities help shape the Government’s draft budget for the Federal Foreign Office, which is presented to Parliament for debate and final approval.