German military spending quota would drop below 2018 level in 2022: source

BERLIN (Reuters) - German defense spending as a percentage of economic output would rise in 2019, as Chancellor Angela Merkel assured U.S. President Donald Trump last week, but will fall thereafter, unless German budget plans are adjusted, a defense ministry source said on Wednesday.

The source told reporters that defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product would fall to 1.23 percent in 2022, even below the projected level for 2018, despite Germany’s pledge as a member of NATO to steadily increase defense spending toward a target of 2 percent of GDP.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Development Minister Christian Mueller, both conservatives, objected in writing on Wednesday to the longer-range budget plan drafted by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, arguing that it violated the coalition agreement signed by the two blocs.

The defense ministry expects to have to delay some major procurement programs planned with other countries unless additional funds are added in coming months, the source said, but declined to say which projects could be affected.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Madeline Chambers