Germany is updating the key document which underpins its entire security and defence policy. On 17 February 2015, Federal Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen launched the process of drafting a new White Paper on security policy and the future of the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces). The new White Paper is due to be published in 2016 and is being drafted in an interministerial, inclusive and transparent process.

Bundeswehr in Mali
(© picture alliance / dpa)

We want to incorporate a wide range of expertise from the outset, because security today is much more than just a military matter, said the Minister at the opening event in Berlin. We want to include stimulus and suggestions from parliament and political parties, the science and research sector, think tanks and associations – from Germany and abroad.

The new White Paper will set out the strategic policy tenets of Germany’s security and defence policy for the upcoming years and will draw conclusions for the structure and capability requirements of the Bundeswehr. The results of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s foreign policy review process will also feed into the work on drafting the White Paper. This process will dovetail with the strategic overhaul of the European Union’s strategy regarding foreign and security policy.

De Maiziere in Afghanistan
(© picture alliance / dpa)

The participatory phase of drafting the White Paper will run to October 2015. As part of this, international experts, government representatives, interest groups and the German public are set to discuss Germany’s security and defence policy. Four main topics dominate the debate:

-        What challenges will Germany’s security and defence policy face in upcoming years?

-        What instruments are available and how are these embedded in alliances and partnerships?

-        What is our national framework for action?

-        What direction should the Bundeswehr move in from now on? In light of limited resources, how can military capabilities be further integrated within Europe?

Work on drafting the text itself will begin after the participatory phase. The new White Paper is due to be released to the public mid-2016.


White Papers are adopted by the German Cabinet and are published by the Federal Ministry of Defence. They are issued at irregular intervals; the Paper currently in force is from 2006.