Germany has approved more arms exports in 2021 than ever before. This is according to a preliminary balance sheet of the Ministry of Economics, which was published on Tuesday. According to the report, the value of armaments rose from 5.82 billion in 2020 to 9.35 billion euros last year.
According to the report, the largest customer for German arms exports is Egypt by far. In 2021, arms worth 4.34 billion euros were approved for the country in northeast Africa alone. Of these, 95 percent were arms exports for the maritime sector and air defense, the Ministry of Economics reported. Other buyers of German arms exports were the United States (1 billion euros), the Netherlands (0.82 billion euros) and Singapore (0.62 billion euros).
In total, German arms manufacturers sold war weapons worth 4.2 billion euros in 2021. These include, for example, tanks, submarines, warships and small firearms. In addition, orders for other defense equipment, such as transport vehicles or sensor technology, totaling 5.1 billion euros have been approved.
According to the Ministry of Economics, the high figure was "mainly due to decisions made by the previous government. Since the "traffic light" government took office on December 8, only 309 million euros worth of goods had been ordered, "almost exclusively" to EU and NATO countries.
In fact, it had become known in December that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and her then Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had approved the sale of three warships and 16 air defense systems shortly before taking office. Peter Altmaier (CDU), the economics minister at the time, informed the Bundestag about the deal just one day before Scholz was elected chancellor - without disclosing the value of the exports.
What is explosive about this is that the government was only in the office on an executive basis during this time. It is common practice that no more far-reaching political decisions are made at this stage - especially if the successor government might disagree.
Stricter law to be launched this year
In its coalition agreement, the new "traffic light" government agreed on a more restrictive approach to arms exports. The federal government wants to launch a new arms export law this year. "If everything goes according to plan, we'll have a first draft law in the second half of the year," Economy State Secretary Sven Giegold told the "taz" newspaper on Tuesday. "Decisions on arms exports need a restrictive and clear legal basis," he said, explaining the plan.
According to Giegold, there will be a series of expert hearings on the topic in the spring. "I will listen to everyone - the peace movement as well as the arms industry," he announced. After that, key points for the planned law should be worked out by the summer and approved by the cabinet. The draft law would then be drafted on this basis.
The new law should include the administrative regulations and political principles already in force, Giegold elaborated. "In this way, we will enshrine in law the procedural bases and control options that have so far only been contained in sub-legal administrative rules." The so-called end-use control on war weapons and other military equipment will be expanded, he added.