National security strategy is in departmental coordination
Als Friedrich Merz on Thursday in the Bundestag replied to the Chancellor’s government statement, he listed the points of contention in the traffic light coalition. The CDU chairman also referred to the national security strategy, which the coalition had long wanted to have presented. Work on the paper at least entered the next phase this week.
After months in which the strategy was worked out in a small group of people from the Chancellery and a few departments, it went to the departmental vote on Monday as classified information. But even if the paper, which is currently around 40 pages long, is not yet known to the public, there are indications that it will not only be opposition politicians like Friedrich Merz who will ultimately find points of criticism again.
It is obvious that the preparation took longer than planned: “In the first year of the new federal government, we will present a comprehensive national security strategy,” says the coalition agreement. It is the first security strategy that the Federal Foreign Office was given the lead. Then came the Russian attack on Ukraine and expectations grew.
China strategy will come later
Even now it should still be a few weeks before publication. Much more important, however, is the question of what is in the paper at the end – and what concrete measures can be derived from it. Because the conclusions the federal government has drawn from the turn of the century are also being closely observed internationally.
The strategy should not only describe the security situation in the world, but also the consequences for national security. There is a view to Russia, the greatest threat to national security in the foreseeable future, to China, which is already described in the coalition agreement as a partner, competitor and system rival, or to Americathe closest ally outside of Europe.
But a detailed China strategy, for example, will only be published after the security strategy. This focuses on the concept of integrated security policy: it is about how the country’s resilience to the dangers threatening from outside can be strengthened.
Clear grumbling from the countries
It should not only be about the military dimension, but also about food security, civil defense and disaster control, energy security and critical infrastructure. In view of the tense budget discussion, the wording used to introduce the 2% target on defense into the paper – and the increases in humanitarian aid and development cooperation in relation to it – will be watched closely.
The strategy cuts across departments and at many levels, from municipalities to the government. A clear grumbling could therefore be heard, especially from the federal states. They asked to be included. There will now be no centralization in civil protection, for which the federal states are responsible – a majority for an amendment to the Basic Law is not foreseeable.
In any case, even before the paper is published, what is causing concern is what will not be in it: there will be no National Security Council. The FDP in particular had campaigned for this, but also security experts. In the end, the Chancellery and the Foreign Office could not agree on where one should have settled.
“I regret that we can’t manage any structural adjustments in the security strategy, such as a national security council, or changes in civil protection,” says the foreign policy spokesman for the FDP, Ulrich Lechte. Nevertheless, he is confident that it will be a good paper. “Because any security strategy is better than none.”
The SPD foreign policy expert Ralf Stegner does not regret the absence of the Security Council. “We are not America,” he says, “and we acted convincingly during the war.” He is entirely in line with the Federal Chancellor. “Whether a National Security Council is needed in a country that, unlike the USA, does not have a presidential system can of course be widely discussed – as you know, I am skeptical,” said Olaf Scholz in an interview with the “Handelsblatt”.