Security and defence policy guidelines that shape Germany’s actions have been drawn up and issued at the national, European and transatlantic levels.
So far, there has been no grand national security strategy. In their coalition agreement, however, the government parties have agreed to change that. In the past years, the Federal Government adopted policy documents which provided the framework for Germany’s current security and defence policy. Here is an overview of these documents:
The White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr, last published in 2016, is currently the primary security and defence policy document for Germany. It was prepared under the direction of the Federal Ministry of Defence and adopted by the Federal Cabinet. Its first part summarises the key elements, objectives and parameters of German security policy whereas the second part outlines what this means for Bundeswehr requirements. The first White Paper was published in 1969. Since there is no fixed revision period for White Papers, subsequent versions were published at irregular intervals.
The White Paper on Multilateralism of the Federal Government was prepared under the direction of the Federal Foreign Office. Entitled “A Multilateralism for the People”, the document describes Germany’s commitment to strengthening multilateral organisations and rules. The guiding principle underlying the White Paper is the goal of improving the living conditions of people in Germany, in Europe and all over the world. With regard to security policy, the White Paper on Multilateralism clearly states: “The only way to [...] guarantee peace and security is to ensure that the international community takes collective action that is rooted in solidarity.” It also explains that “countries going it alone” cannot be the answer to current global challenges.
Just like in the White Paper on Security Policy, Germany has laid down its willingness to help shape the global order within its means and capabilities in the policy guidelines entitled “Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace”. In 2017, under the direction of the Federal Foreign Office, these policy guidelines were created to form an overall interministerial concept for dealing with international crises and armed conflicts. The guidelines represent the Federal Government’s unambiguous commitment to the clear primacy of civilian over military means in solving conflicts. For this reason, an exceedingly high significance it attached to crisis prevention.
The Cyber Security Strategy for Germany is another German security policy document, issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The Strategy was drawn up in 2021 and describes the underlying long-term orientation of the Federal Government’s cyber security policy. It takes into account both the enormous opportunities presented by digital transformation and the risks involved for Germany’s technological development.
This year, the foreign and defence ministers of the EU Member States adopted the Strategic Compass to increase the European Union’s ability to act in matters of security policy. As the EU’s new foreign and security policy document, the Strategic Compass is to now guide the way for the Common Security and Defence Policy or CSDPCommon Security and Defence Policy . Its development was to a considerable degree a result of Germany’s initiative. European unity, a quicker and more efficient crisis management as well as common military capability development are at the heart of the European Union’s planned increase in commitment.
At this year’s Madrid Summit in late June, NATO’s heads of state and government adopted a new Strategic Concept. Besides the Washington Treaty, the Strategic Concept represents NATO’s most important document regarding the values, purpose and tasks of the Alliance. Since the last Strategic Concept was issued in 2010, NATO has gradually returned to focussing on its core task of collective defence.