U.S. Allies in Europe to Boost Defense Spending for Fourth Year

(Bloomberg) -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said its European members would increase defense spending for a fourth consecutive year in 2019 as U.S. President Donald Trump keeps up demands on allies to expand their military budgets.

The combined defense budgets of its European member countries would average 1.58% of gross domestic product this year, up from 1.53% of GDP in 2018, NATO said in a report published on Tuesday. The levels were 1.48% in 2017 and 1.46% in 2016.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the new figures in a press conference in Brussels and said defense ministers from the 29-nation alliance would discuss transatlantic “burden sharing” at a June 26-27 meeting.

The U.S. accounts for more than two-thirds of NATO’s defense expenditure and Trump has become increasingly vocal in pressuring Europe to foot more of the common security bill.

U.S. Allies in Europe to Boost Defense Spending for Fourth Year

Discord between the U.S. and its longtime partners has grown after Trump withdrew from a landmark global agreement to fight climate change, abandoned an accord aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and imposed metal-import tariffs on national-security grounds dismissed by many countries.

In 2014, NATO members pledged to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. In Europe, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania and the U.K. will achieve the goal this year, according to the data released on Tuesday by NATO.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and a particular target of criticism by Trump, will boost its military budget to 1.36% of GDP this year compared with 1.24% in 2018, according to NATO.

The U.S. is boosting its military expenditure to 3.42% of GDP in 2019, up from 3.30% last year. Canada will register 1.27% compared with 1.29% in 2018. On average defense spending by NATO members will rise to 2.51% of GDP this year, a third annual increase.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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