Defence spending by European NATO allies inches up in 2016

  • Defence spending by European NATO allies inches up in 2016

Defence spending by European NATO allies inches up in 2016

"We still do not have fair burden-sharing within our alliance", said Stoltenberg.

Defense spending by European NATO states inched up for the first time in seven years in 2016, the military alliance said on Monday (March 13).

After the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO allies cut defence spending only to find themselves caught out by Russia's intervention in Ukraine and its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The NATO official also said the sophistication of cyberattacks from Russian Federation during 2016 - and the type of information being targeted - suggests that they were not the work of private hackers working on their own. But overall spending still remained below the 2 percent threshold US President Donald Trump said was crucial to achieve.

Even if Germany suddenly increased spending, the country's military is need of high levels of sustained support far above that two percent guidance.

With the USA accounting for about 70 percent of NATO's overall defense expenditure, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned in mid-February that Washington would "moderate" its support for the 28-nation alliance unless other members contribute more.

He said politicians prefer to spend on education, health and infrastructure and many countries cut defence spending as tensions eased in the wake of the Cold War.

Germany increased defense outlays to 1.20 percent of GDP a year ago from 1.18 percent, while Spain fell to 0.90 percent from 0.93 percent and France slid to 1.79 percent from 1.80 percent.

Trump has also called for a $54 billion hike in U.S. defence expenditure, now at more than $600 billion, winning broad support but also criticism that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The U.S. has always been the top defense spender among its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation peers - it accounted for 68 percent of combined expenditures a year ago - but that fact has rarely been the focus of media attention or political debate.

"This is something that Europe is not yet ideally suited to deal with".