EUROPE POLITICS: NATO Spending Rises, Britain Meets Goal

Politicoscope
By Politicoscope February 15, 2017 10:00

EUROPE POLITICS: NATO Spending Rises, Britain Meets Goal

NATO’s European allies and Canada increased defence spending by 3.8 percent last year, or $10 billion more than 2015, the alliance said on Tuesday, and said Britain was keeping up with its target after a report said London missed its goal.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea has given the alliance new momentum after years of cuts, but differences remain about the pace of investment. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a security think tank, said only Greece and Estonia met a target to spend 2 percent of economic output on defence.

A NATO official told Reuters that five allies, including Britain, met or exceeded NATO’s benchmark in 2016. NATO is expected to release its full 2016 figures next month.

Europe’s low expenditure has long been a sore point for the United States, which puts up 70 percent of alliance funds, and U.S. President Donald Trump has made change a priority, saying allies have “been very unfair to us” for not spending more.

NATO will tell new U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday in Brussels that Europe is responding.

“We are making a significant step forward but we have a long way to go … it is not enough,” Stoltenberg told a news conference, saying Trump raised the issue in the two phone calls the two men have held.

However, Russia’s 2014 annexation in Ukraine and the rise of Islamist militancy – not U.S. pressure – led to last year’s increase in European spending, NATO diplomats and analysts said.

Stoltenberg said the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, who fear a repeat of Crimea, were on course to meet the 2 percent goal, while Romania was also heading towards that level.

Germany is increasing spending by 2 billion euros ($2.13 billion) in this year’s budget.

However, IISS’s study said Britain’s level fell slightly to 1.98 percent in 2016 as the economy grew faster than defence outlay. Poland also slipped, it said.

Britain said the IISS figures were incorrect as the think tank presented its figures in U.S. dollars and so had been impacted by exchange rate fluctuations.

“NATO’s own figures clearly show that the UK spends over 2 percent of its GDP on defence,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

“Our defence budget is the biggest in Europe, the second largest in NATO, and it is growing each year as we invest 178 billion pounds ($221.88 billion) in new equipment.”

In 2015, only Greece, Estonia, Poland and Britain hit the 2 percent NATO target. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who discussed the issue with Trump last month, has warned EU leaders to raise their defence spending.

Stoltenberg acknowledged difficulties. “The picture is still mixed, some allies are still really struggling,” he said when asked about budget constraints in Italy, which is trying to reduce its budget deficit following the euro zone crisis.

– Reuters


You May Also Like

EUROPE POLITICS: NATO Lock in US Support for Stand-Off With Russia Immediately after Donald Trump was elected, U.S. diplomats urged Lithuania to rush through an agreement to keep American troops on its soil, reflecting alarm that the new, Russia-friendly U.S. president might try to stop more deployments in Europe. ...
EUROPE POLITICS: Trump Under Pressure to Assure NATO Allies He Has Their Back Standing in front of a memorial made of remnants of the World Trade Center, U.S. President Donald Trump will have a powerful symbolic opportunity in Brussels next Thursday to make clear how he really feels about NATO. But as controversies swirl ar...
EUROPE POLITICS: NATO War Game Defends Baltic Weak Spot for First Time U.S. and British troops have carried out the first large-scale NATO defensive drill on the border between Poland and Lithuania, rehearsing for a possible scenario in which Russia might try to sever the Baltic states from the rest of the Western allia...

Up Next on Politicoscope

Share this Article: "EUROPE POLITICS: NATO Spending Rises, Britain Meets Goal"

Politicoscope
By Politicoscope February 15, 2017 10:00

What's on Your Mind?