“In his speech during the budget debate in the German Bundestag on Wednesday (8 September) Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier said that Germany was “not shirking responsibility”. The 4.6 billion euros earmarked for the Federal Foreign Office reflects this greater responsibility. In response to the large number of conflicts worldwide that have forced more people to flee their homes than at any other time since the Second World War, increased funding will be made available once again for humanitarian aid and crisis prevention.
1.4% of the federal budget to be spent on foreign policy
The German Government’s draft budget for 2017 totals 328.7 billion euros, with the Federal Foreign Office’s share accounting for 1.4% of this amount. In his speech to the German Bundestag, Foreign Minister Steinmeier spoke of a “crisis‑ridden world in which security and stability apparently can no longer be taken for granted; a world that demands that we do more to uphold peace and to restore it where it no longer exists – in Syria and the Middle East, but also here in Europe.”
Earlier, more decisively and more tangibly
The aim is that the budget will help the Federal Foreign Office to act even earlier, more decisively and more tangibly in the context of “forward‑looking foreign policy”, that is, to de‑escalate conflicts as early as possible and to actively prevent crises, thus tackling the reasons why people flee. Accordingly, the high level of expenditure on humanitarian aid and crisis prevention will be maintained at 730 million euros and 240 million euros respectively. Steinmeier gave a positive assessment of Germany’s recent endeavours in this field.
In recent years, we have succeeded in not just thinking about the really big solutions, which might have failed, but rather in looking at the entire cycle of a conflict, ranging from humanitarian aid and crisis prevention to stabilisation and the expansion of our mediation capacities.
Enhancing cultural relations and education policy
Greater resources will also be made available for cultural relations and education policy. An increase from 820 to 870 million euros is planned. This field includes support for the Goethe‑Institut and German schools abroad. The German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will receive additional funding for projects that address displacement and migration. The budget will also allow dialogue with civil societies in the Eastern Partnership and Russia to continue at the same level as in the previous year.
In a world that is out of joint, Germany will also have to do justice to its role once again in the coming years. Steinmeier concluded his speech by saying:
Not only will we face up to our responsibilities, we will also send a message that we are willing to take on responsibility in the international arena and to work on a rules-based international order. This is why we will run for a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2019‑2020 term.