Germany’s National Security Strategy: Progress and Pitfalls

Germany’s National Security Strategy: Progress and Pitfalls

One year after implementing its first-ever National Security Strategy, Germany’s approach to integrated security has drawn both praise and criticism from experts and international observers. While the strategy marks a significant shift in Germany’s security thinking, some argue it falls short in key areas.

A New Era of Security Thinking

The strategy reflects Germany’s evolving understanding of security, largely shaped by Russia’s war against Ukraine. It embraces a holistic “Integrated Security” approach, encompassing traditional and non-traditional security concerns.

Strengths of the Strategy

  1. Comprehensive approach: The strategy addresses a wide range of security issues, from military preparedness to climate change.
  2. Commitment to NATO: Germany pledges to meet the 2% GDP defense spending target, signaling a more robust role within the alliance.
  3. Recognition of new threats: The strategy acknowledges emerging challenges like cybersecurity and supply chain vulnerabilities.

Critical Perspectives

However, several experts and analysts have pointed out potential shortcomings:

  1. Vague on EU integration: The Atlantic Council notes that the strategy “falls short of an integrated approach towards Europe,” primarily presenting the EU as a framework for upscaling national projects rather than a key security actor[1].
  2. Budgetary concerns: Rachel Rizzo, an expert cited by the Atlantic Council, highlights a contradictory statement in the strategy: “Given the considerable demands on our public finances at present, we will strive to implement this Strategy at no additional cost to the overall federal budget.” This raises questions about the feasibility of meeting ambitious goals without additional funding[1].
  3. Lack of concrete measures: Some critics argue that while the strategy sets lofty goals, it often lacks specific, actionable plans for implementation.
  4. Minimal consensus: The Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) suggests that the strategy represents a “minimal consensus” among coalition partners, potentially limiting its effectiveness[4].
  5. Franco-German relations: Despite emphasizing the importance of the Franco-German partnership, some observers note that concrete proposals for strengthening this key relationship are lacking[4].
  6. China policy: The strategy’s approach to China has been criticized as potentially too soft, attempting to balance economic interests with security concerns.

National Security Strategy – Looking Ahead

While the National Security Strategy represents a significant step forward for Germany, its success will ultimately depend on implementation. The coming years will reveal whether Germany can translate its integrated security vision into concrete actions and overcome the challenges identified by critics.

As Germany continues to adapt to the “Zeitenwende” in global affairs, ongoing evaluation and adjustment of the strategy will be crucial. The country’s ability to balance its new security ambitions with budgetary constraints, EU integration, and evolving global threats will be closely watched by allies and adversaries alike.

The German National Security Strategy in English can be found here.

Additional info about the synergistic security approach can be found here.