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When Germany Sends Troops Abroad

The case for a limited reform of the Parliamentary Participation Act

SWP Research Paper 2013/RP 09, 25.09.2013, 21 Pages Research Areas

The Parliamentary Participation Act has proved to be a valuable tool for ensuring the democratic legitimacy of any decision to send Bundeswehr troops abroad. Since it came into force in 2005, the German Bundestag has given its assent to more than 70 requests of the Federal Government for the deployment of German troops abroad, or the extension of such mandates, and has not rejected a single application. Nevertheless, there is a problem: Germany’s partners see participation with military personnel in the NATO Command Structure and in the Airborne Early Warning Command AWACS as a logical consequence of their membership of the Alliance. Participation is not called into question during deployment. This is not the case in Germany, where participation during deployment has become the subject of fine-spun legal argument and heated political debate. Within the Alliance, the German stance, which has repeatedly led to withdrawals from AWACS, is perceived as being contradictory, lacking in solidarity, and not compatible with Germany’s significant position. A limited reform of the Act could provide a remedy, and the new legislative period is an opportune moment for taking action.