The 2016 White Paper

The Federal Government has recast the strategic foundations of its security and defence policy. On 13 July 2016, the Federal Cabinet for the first time in ten years adopted a new White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr.

The new White Paper analyses the changing security environment in and near Europe and draws the respective conclusions for Germany’s security and defence policy. The international order that was created after the end of the Second World War is changing, due to increasing multipolarity and diffusion of power, as well as growing digitalisation and elements of globalisation that intensify conflicts. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in violation of international law and the conflict in and in connection with Ukraine, the European rules-based security architecture has been called into question. The European project is coming under increasing pressure.

Bundeswehr in Mali Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa)

Against this background, Germany’s security policy is facing many challenges – ranging from a return of traditional power politics, increased hybrid threats and numerous fragile states in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood to transnational terrorism, challenges in the cyber domain and the growing threat to key communication networks and supply lines. Germany’s overall security policy environment has become more complex, volatile, dynamic and unpredictable.

The White Paper for the first time clearly and objectively assesses where Germany stands in the European and international context. Our country’s growing responsibility and commitment to multilateral action is taken into account, and our dependencies and vulnerabilities as a truly globally-connected country are identified. The White Paper then sets out Germany’s security policy interests based on this assessment.

Germany’s security policy interests:

  • protecting our citizens and guaranteeing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country;
  • protecting the territorial integrity, sovereignty and citizens of our allies;
  • upholding the rules-based international order, on the foundation of international law;
  • maintaining the prosperity of our citizens thanks to a strong German economy and free, unhindered global trade;
  • promoting responsible stewardship of the world’s limited resources and scarce commodities;
  • deepening European integration and strengthening the transatlantic partnership.

De Maiziere in Afghanistan Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa)

In a long chapter on the key areas of national engagement, the need is identified for sustainable funding of the ministries responsible for foreign, security and development policy tasks. The White Paper reconfirms that our security policy must be firmly anchored in multilateral institutions, i.e. the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and the OSCE. Germany’s ambition to play an active and substantial role in the world is spelled out in greater detail with respect to operations. In the European context, this also means Germany intends to “continue steadily along the path towards a European Security and Defence Union”. NATO’s renewed focus on collective defence is reflected in the statement that Alliance solidarity is “a fundamental principle of German governance”. At the same time, the Federal Government remains committed to a dual approach that includes willingness to engage in dialogue and a focus on cooperative security.

The new White Paper again has two parts: Part I examines security policy, while Part II explores what this means for the future of the Bundeswehr. A roughly one-and-a-half-year process preceded publication of the White Paper, in which the German public was involved in different ways: Various workshops were held in Germany and abroad, during which more than 1800 participants discussed at length many aspects of German security policy. Citizens also had the opportunity to contribute to these discussions via an Internet platform.

White Paper

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The 2016 White Paper

The White Paper is also a contribution by the German Government to the security policy debate in our country. Its purpose is to intensify and enrich this debate. In addition, it shows our international partners and allies how Germany sees its future role in the world in terms of security policy. The 2016 White Paper is the first of its kind to be based on an inclusive participation phase. National and international experts as well as interested citizens were given various opportunities to participate in the discussion about the future of German security policy.