NATO countries negotiate their future levels of defense spending

Against the backdrop of war in Ukraine, some allies campaign to go beyond 2 % of the GDP that they must devote to armament by 2024.

By Philippe Jacqué (Brussels, European office)

The war in Ukraine and the assistance in arms and other ammunition was at the heart of the discussions of the meeting between the Ministers of Defense of the Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO), Tuesday, February 14, in Brussels. But another debate is being imposed between the thirty allies – to which are added Sweden and Finland, which, awaiting their membership, attend the discussions as guest: the extent of the budget that the allies will devote to the future to their defense. “It is a thorny debate that accelerates,” recognizes a European diplomat. A subject obviously linked to Ukraine and Russia.

In September 2014, a few weeks after the Russian Crimea invasion, the heads of state of the NATO allies, still in shock, gathered in Wales. They undertook to stop reducing their defense expenses and increasing them, with the aim, by 2024, to reach a minimum level of defense spending of 2 % of the gross domestic product (GDP) . At the time, only three countries, the United States, Greece and the United Kingdom, exceeded this level.

They also undertook to allocate “at least 20 % of their annual defense expenses to the acquisition of new major equipment”. Almost ten years later, “what the Allies would like to do, said on Monday, Julianne Smith, the American ambassador to NATO on Monday, is to announce to the top of Vilnius, in July, which will come after this commitment, And there, there are a whole variety of options (…), such as making certain objectives compulsory or reviewing the indicators to follow. The allies will discuss it. 2>

more felted American pressures

The tone of the Biden administration, however, has changed well compared to that used by Donald Trump. In 2018, during the Brussels NATO summit, the President of the United States had demanded that European countries “immediately” “2 % of their GDP to their safety” immediately “. And that they pass after 2024 to 4 %. American pressures are still present, even if they are much more felted. While the Russian threat has never been so close after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the debate will be rough, given the efforts already made.

In 2022, only seven new countries, including countries bordering Russia, the three Baltic countries or Poland, in particular, exceeded the 2 %mark. France, it was approaching this level and should exceed it in the coming years, after the announcement, on January 20, by Emmanuel Macron of a new military programming law 2024-2030 upstairs.

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/Media reports cited above.