In recent years, the German government has been under pressure from NATO to increase its total defense spending. This has led to plans to add to the country’s military, which the German government is looking to add 21,000 new members to in the next seven years. However, with this pressure, the government have announced that, due to labour shortages, the German military may be allowed to hire employees from other EU countries in certain roles.
Conscription was scrapped in Germany seven years ago, and since then, the country has failed to recruit enough staff in some roles. Furthermore, there has been a lack of investment, which is now being changed, mostly due to international pressure to boost international defense spending. The government is planning to increase its budget to 1.5% of GDP, in comparison to its current budget of 1.2%. NATO has recommended a budget of 2%.
According to one official, General Inspector Eberhard Zorn, hiring from other member states could be one of the best options going forward. It would involve hiring from other EU countries in areas where there are currently shortages – for instance, doctors and IT specialists. In these particular roles, there are issues when it comes to hiring the right staff, and hiring from abroad might be the only option if all the roles are to be filled.
The reports have been met with mixed reactions from some other EU member states. For example, government officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have raised concerns that the move could mean highly qualified military employees could be lured to Germany, where they would be able to achieve higher pay in the same positions. Consultations are still taking place on the proposals.
Currently, Germany doesn’t allow foreign citizens to serve in the military, unless they have dual nationality and hold a German passport. But, Germany’s military ombudsman did note in a recent interview that, due to the number of soldiers who hold dual citizenship, the number of “foreign” citizens employed by the German military is already fairly high. He added that they had become a “type of normality” in certain roles.
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