Tobias Ellwood said the ‘world is becoming more dangerous’ and so more military spending was necessary.
Donald Trump’s frustration with lower military spending by NATO allies in Europe is “understandable,” said U.K. Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood.
Speaking to the Telegraph ahead of a summit of the military alliance in Brussels next week, he said that the U.S. president was right to push for more domestic spending on defense.
“As we make the case for further U.K. defence spending so should our NATO allies. The world is becoming more dangerous, the threats more complex and growing on multiple fronts,” he said, “So it’s understandable for the U.S. to air frustration and ask European nations to do more — especially as some states are yet to meet their standard two percent obligation.”
All NATO members are committed to raising military spending to two percent of GDP by 2024 but many European members currently spend well below that figure and only 15 out of 29 are on track to meet the benchmark by that date.
“It’s in Europe’s direct interest to upgrade our defence posture, as our economies, heavily reliant on access to international markets, will be affected if we can’t guarantee security for that access as well as put out potential fires in future markets,” said Ellwood.
The U.S. president has been particularly critical of Germany, which currently spends 1.24 percent of its economic output on its military and will bring this up to 1.31 percent next year.
On Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said NATO to be refocused at the threat posed by Russia on Europe’s eastern flank.
“The challenges for NATO have changed drastically in recent years,” Merkel said in a video statement published Saturday, adding that after Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its military activities in Eastern Ukraine it is important “to focus more on defending the alliance.”
“To do that we [must] make necessary arrangements, for example through a presence in central and Eastern European countries,” she said.
Ahead of the summit U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said she is willing to back Trump’s demand for more spending: “We’re meeting the pledge. A limited number of other Nato countries are meeting it. I would urge everybody to work towards that,” she told the Sunday Times.