Secretary General welcomes unprecedented rise in NATO defence spending

By Martin Banks

Defence spending in Europe has reached “unprecedented” levels, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The official said that that latest defence spending figures show an “unprecedented increase” across European Allies and Canada.

He said that since the Defence Investment Pledge was made in 2014, European Allies and Canada have added more than $600 billion for defence.

In 2023, we saw a real increase of 11% in defence spending across European Allies and Canada, which the Secretary General called an “unprecedented rise”.

Stoltenberg added that he expects 18 Allies to spend 2% of GDP on defence in 2024 – a six-fold increase since 2014, when only three Allies met the target.

“In 2024, NATO Allies in Europe will invest a combined total of 380 billion US dollars in defence. For the first time, this amounts to 2% of their combined GDP,” said Stoltenberg. He added: “we are making real progress: European Allies are spending more. However, some Allies still have a ways to go. Because we agreed at the Vilnius Summit that all Allies should invest 2%, and that 2% is a minimum.”

In 2014, NATO Allies in Europe invested 1.47% of their collective GDP in defence. That figure has risen steadily over a decade, and will reach 2% in 2024.

Meanwhile, the European Commission president and British prime minister say the situation in Ukraine demands “full attention.”

Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen were speaking after a call with each other on February 18.

von der Leyen and Sunak later issued a joint statement which the two leaders said they shared the view that the situation in Ukraine “requires full attention.”

The statement went on, “The (Commission) President informed the PM about the conclusions of the European Council, which had agreed on €50 billion in financial support for Ukraine.”

Both leaders stressed the EU’s and the UK’s “shared commitment to peace and security in Europe” and also “shared their concern about the risk of a possible escalation and regionalization of the conflict between Israel and Hamas as a result of Hamas‘ attack on Israel and the ongoing war in Gaza.”

It added, “The protection of civilian lives must be a priority. The hostages must be released unconditionally.”

von der Leyen and Sunak also “welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations on a new working arrangement between UK agencies and Frontex, which will be formalized in the coming days, as part of wider cooperation between the UK and EU on crack down on illegal migration.”

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