Germany Meets Euro Debt Limit

Germany Meets Euro Debt Limit

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The German government says its 2019 budget will comply with eurozone debt limits for the first time in 17 years.

The draft budget also raises defense spending — a contentious issue between Germany and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a news conference that debt would fall to 58.25 percent of yearly economic output. That would put it below the 60 percent limit established by rules to ensure fiscal responsibility and price stability in the 19 countries that use the euro.

The debt burden has fallen as the economy has grown and the government has run balanced budgets. But the tight budgets have drawn criticism that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has neglected investment needs and skimped on defense spending. At 1.3 percent of gross domestic product, defense outlays remain far below NATO members' target of 2 percent by 2024.

The question of defense spending by NATO allies promises to be a contentious issue at an upcoming NATO summit on July 11-12 after Trump again pressed allies to raise their spending commitments.

Germany's defense budget is getting an 11 percent yearly increase, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was quoted as saying by the newspapers of the Funke media group. She said that "Germany has strong arguments in that regard" ahead of the summit.

The draft budget will be taken up by the parliament in the fall.

(KA)