Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, representing Angela Merkel’s party Christian Democratic Union, wants to let foreigners, particularly, Poles, Italians and Romanians, join the German military, Der Spiegel reports, citing an interior ministry concept paper. The paper says that there’s a “quantitative potential” for the Bundeswehr (the German armed forces) among young nationals of these three countries.
With about 255,000 Poles, 185,000 Italians and 155,000 Romanians, aged between 18 and 40, living in Germany, only 10 percent of them, possibly showing an interest in military service, could ensure 50,000 possible applicants.
At the same time, the Bundeswehr’s general inspector Eberhard Zorn has told the German Funke Mediengruppe that recruiting EU citizens was “one option”, pointing out that this practice could be applied to doctors or IT-specialists. According to the commander, in times of shortages of skilled workers, the military should “look in all directions and take care of the right new generation”.
While the German military reportedly wants to narrow down the group of potential recruits to EU citizens who have already lived in Germany for several years and speak fluent German, neighbouring countries are said to share fears over losing potential soldiers due to better salaries.