Germany criticised over NATO defence spending

The latest NATO annual report has revealed that defence spending by NATO European members reached a five-year high last year, as measured by a proportion of GDP. 

Only six EU countries, specifically the UK, Poland, Greece and the three Baltic nations, met the 2% of economic output spending target on defence. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Germany has after years of cutting defence spending started to increase. I expect more, I expect [a] further increase, and Germany has promised to make an 80 percent increase from 2014 to 2024.” 

He also added, “The burden-sharing is not only about cash, it’s also about contributions to NATO missions. Germany is contributing to NATO in many different ways.”

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels last week, Stoltenberg told reporters: "The Report shows that NATO continues to modernise. 

"With Europe and North America doing more together than ever before for our shared security.  Responding to the challenges of today; adapting to the challenges of tomorrow; and investing in the future.

He said, "At the Brussels Summit in July, we took more than one hundred decisions to strengthen our Alliance.

He went on, "In 2018:

  • We strengthened our deterrence and defence, including with a new Readiness Initiative.
  • We agreed a major update of the NATO Command Structure, with two new commands – one for the Atlantic and another to support military mobility in Europe.
  • We carried out Trident Juncture 2018, NATO’s largest exercise in a generation.
  • We boosted our cyber defences, including with a Cyberspace Operations Centre.
  • We stood united in calling out Russia for its use of a nerve agent on British soil and its breach of the INF Treaty.
  • We stepped up in the fight against terrorism, with a new training mission in Iraq, and more support for Afghanistan.
  • We deepened our partnerships, from Ukraine and Georgia to Jordan and Tunisia.
  • We worked more closely than ever before with the European Union, including on maritime security and military mobility.
  • We invited North Macedonia to become a member of the Alliance, showing that NATO's door remains open.
  • We completed the move to this new headquarters, a modern home for a modern Alliance.

He said, "And at our July Summit in Brussels, we agreed there is a new urgency to ensure fairer burden sharing across the Alliance. 
All Allies have stopped the cuts. All Allies have started to increase. Last year, European Allies and Canada increased their defence spending by almost 4% in real terms. Since 2016, they have actually spent an extra 41 billion US dollars on defence. And we expect that figure to rise to 100 billion by the end of next year. 
You can find the specific national figures for each country in the Report. 
When it comes to capabilities, 25 Allies spent more in real terms on major equipment last year than in the previous one.   
This includes investment in fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, missile defence and drones.
Allies are also stepping up their contributions to NATO deployments. With more than twenty thousand troops serving from Afghanistan to Iraq and Kosovo, to the Baltic countries, and Poland."

Stoltenberg added, "So we face a paradox:
At a time when some are questioning the strength of the transatlantic bond, we are actually doing more together – in more ways and in more places – than ever before. 
Because we live in an unpredictable world, NATO’s unity is more important than ever.  
As we mark the 70th anniversary of this Alliance this year, we must continue to stand strong and stand together.

He said, "NATO Foreign Ministers will meet next month in Washington. And our Heads of State and Government will meet in London in December.

"These will be opportunities to celebrate seven decades of peace and prosperity. And to look to the future. Our world is changing and NATO is changing with it. But our commitment to one another endures. For seventy years, we have worked together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.

"And standing with unity and resolve, NATO will remain a pillar of stability for generations to come," he concluded.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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