© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, and Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck present the 2024 budget in Berlin, Germany, December 13, 2023. REUTERS/Liesa Johannssen/File Photo
BERLIN (Reuters) – Overseas aid is a big loser in the German budget deal, development agencies have said, after the government agreed to spend almost a billion euros less on development assistance as part of cuts to get its 2024 finances in order.
The government plans to cut the development ministry’s budget by an additional 400 million euros ($438.32 million) next year, on top of a 530-million-euro cut already planned for 2024 before a constitutional court ruling forced the coalition to draw up new spending plans.
“Germany is the second largest donor in the world and these cuts have a signalling effect on other countries,” said Meike Riebau, director of advocacy and policy at Save the Children Germany.
The budget for development stood at 13.4 billion euros in 2021 when the government took office. At the end of this legislative term, it will have around 3 billion less, said Lukas Goltermann, policy adviser at VENRO, an association of development and humanitarian non-governmental organisations in Germany.
“I don’t think Germany has ever seen such a big cut in its development spending,” said Goltermann. “It’s important not only from a moral perspective but also from a strategic perspective.”
The ministry of economic cooperation and development did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Together with the U.S. and the EU, Germany provided over 50% of official development assistance in 2022, Alina Hemm, consultant at Seek Development, said.
“If Germany steps down from its forerunner role going forward, we are at risk of a huge deficit in development finance,” Hemm said.
Global health, gender equality and agriculture, climate and social protection are the top development priorities in the German government coalition agreement.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the government will stick to its goals “but we must do so with less money which means cuts and savings”. Details on the cuts were announced on Tuesday and now each ministry will have decide how to implement them.
“It is not only a humanitarian imperative but also financially more sustainable to prevent crises rather than manage them later,” said Deborah Duering, member of parliament for the Greens, part of the ruling coalition, who is head of the economic cooperation and development committee at the Bundestag.
Development aid is also key for Germany from a geopolitical and geoeconomic point of view, the experts said.
“We can’t shape international agendas if we cut development aid,” said Stephen Klingebiel, head of Inter- and Transnational Cooperation at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS).
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