Civil society concerns grow over dissolution of German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development during coalition talks

After federal elections in September 2021, the Social Democratic Party, the Greens, and the Liberal Democratic Party are negotiating the formation of a new governing coalition. Experts, civil society, and politicians are now discussing the possibility of closing or outsourcing the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Because climate action will be a top priority for Germany in the future, some stakeholders argue that the upcoming government should consider the development ministry’s budget, which is approximately double that of the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), as a source to finance climate protection measures. Supporters of the move claim that merging the development ministry with the BMU to form a “super-Ministry for the Environment” would augment financing for the environment and climate protection in Germany. Critics of the plan argue that such a move could place the focus of the ministry on Germany, rather than supporting low- and middle-income countries. Others also suggested merging the development ministry with the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Another approach, suggested by the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, intends to integrate the development ministry into the Federal Foreign Office. Ischinger claimed that German development cooperation needs to incorporate political conditions within partner countries, such as combating corruption and ensuring good governance policies, and that merging the two ministries would increase the coherence, efficiency, and effectiveness of German security policy.

German civil society organizations and the outgoing German Development Minister Gerd Müller, criticize these propositions and argue that Germany’s ongoing efforts in development cooperation, e.g., in the fight against hunger and poverty, are at risk. At the 60th anniversary of the BMZ, Müller called for heightened German development cooperation and strengthening of the ministry to effectively address global challenges.

A group of 13 civil society organizations (CSOs) in Germany published a statement highlighting the need for a strong and independent development ministry with special consideration given to global challenges like the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. CSOs also claimed that Germany has an international responsibility to address global challenges, necessitating the need for an independent development ministry.

Coalition negotiations are ongoing and decisions have not been finalized regarding the continuance of the German development ministry.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

Press release – Plan International (in German)

New article – Tagesschau (in German)