Germany’s foreign policy budget

1.5% of the federal budget

1.5% of the federal budget, © picture-alliance/dpa

22.12.2020 - Article

The German Bundestag approved the 2021 federal budget on 11 December 2020.

The Federal Foreign Office has been allocated 6.301 billion euro, that is, 1.26 percent of the federal budget. In 2021, Germany’s foreign policy will continue to focus on the political challenges in the Middle East, Africa and Europe that the German Government chiefly addresses via its humanitarian aid, crisis prevention and stabilisation budgets, as well as through its cultural relations and education policy.

Political priorities

Around 3.49 billion euro, and thus over half of the Federal Foreign Office’s total budget, have been allocated to efforts to safeguard peace and stability (including support provided to the United Nations). The largest item in this part of the budget is humanitarian aid at 2.11 billion euro (partly in response to the great need for support in current regional crises and the COVID‑19 pandemic); crisis prevention and stabilisation at 434 million euro; and the Stability Pact for Afghanistan at 170 million euro. Humanitarian assistance now accounts for a third of the Federal Foreign Office’s budget. Germany’s support in this field is vital for millions of people at a time of particular crises. Germany is the second-largest donor in the world and actively shapes the international humanitarian system, for example through innovative approaches and anticipatory humanitarian assistance. Syria will remain a priority in humanitarian assistance in 2021, with an additional 140 million euro in funding compared with the 2020 budget.

Some 221 million euro will be made available for support to the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral organisations. In this way, Germany is meeting its obligations as a member of the multilateral international community of shared values and helping to support and further develop it. After being a member of the UN Security Council in 2019/2020, Germany will continue to play an active role in the UN. It will also remain an elected member of the Human Rights Council until 2022.

Continuing to promote science, research and language

Cultural relations and education policy is a central pillar of German foreign policy. It conveys a positive, but also realistic and contemporary image of Germany. German schools abroad, the Goethe-Institut’s language and cultural work, the scholarship programmes offered by the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and an extensive network of cultural and academic relations worldwide form the heart of Germany’s cultural relations and education policy. The German language plays a particularly important role as a key to communication and mutual understanding, as well as a basis for acquiring the skilled workers our country urgently needs.

These priorities are reflected once again in the 2021 budget, with 1.077 billion euro earmarked for the Federal Foreign Office’s cultural relations and education policy.

A good 40 million euro have been allocated in 2021 to the work of the German Archaeological Institute, which reports directly to the Federal Foreign Office.


Modern foreign policy goes beyond traditional diplomacy. Programmes and projects underpinned by budgetary funds are increasingly supporting and flanking diplomatic efforts to achieve foreign-policy objectives. With the deployment of increasing financial resources, evaluation is becoming ever more important. The “impact orientation of state action” must be ascertained, and thus the results obtained and impact achieved by spending this money have to be assessed. As a comprehensive and objective method for assessing the performance of measures, programmes and strategies, independent (external) evaluation plays a decisive role in this regard. This not only has an accountability and legitimacy function, but also promotes institutional learning in particular and thus facilitates improved steering of the foreign policy supported by budgetary funds.

The Federal Foreign Office therefore commissions external evaluations on a regular basis and as required of the strategies, programmes and projects that it funds. If you are an evaluation company and interested in admission to the Federal Foreign Office’s pool of evaluators, please contact us at evaluierung@zentrale.auswaertiges-amt.de. Self-employed evaluators can form teams to this end.

Personnel and administrative costs

In 2021, 1.42 billion euro have been earmarked for personnel and material costs in the ministry and the 228 German missions abroad around the world. This expenditure thus accounts for only a quarter of the Federal Foreign Office Budget.

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