According to a NATO report published on Wednesday, the 30-nation alliance is spending more on their militaries, with European members and Canada having increased such budgets for six consecutive years. However, just 10 of the countries actually meet the alliance’s spending goals of 2% of gross domestic product on defense.
France and Norway both reached the 2% threshold in fiscal year 2020, according to the report, and the alliance as a whole increased its collective defense spending by 4.3%.
“We expect this trend to continue,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.
Collectively, the alliance spent roughly $1.03 trillion on defense in 2020, according to the report, which was released ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Friday.
While the 2% goal has always been a part of the mutual defense treaty, Trump has pushed US allies to take on a larger share of defense expenditures since he took office in 2017, portraying South Korea and many NATO countries as taking advantage of the US’ massive military budget. While Trump has publicly questioned NATO’s continuity utility to US foreign policy, he has directed much of his criticism at Germany in particular, the second-most populous country in NATO after the US and Europe’s largest economy.
In late July, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the redeployment of nearly 12,000 US troops from Germany to other locations, some of which are in other parts of Europe.
“Germany has to pay,” Trump told Fox News in early August. “Germany is a wealthy country, and they have to pay, and we’re not going to have 52,000 troops in Germany, where they make a fortune off the troops. You know, they build cities around our troops. We’ll let ourselves get rich first, so Germany took advantage, and that’s what happens.”
According to the report, Germany spent 1.57% of its GDP on defense in fiscal year 2020, and Berlin has set a goal of 2% by 2031. However, in 2014, amid the crisis created by the Western-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine and Crimea’s secession from that country to rejoin Russia, the NATO allies set the goal of all reaching 2% in 10 years - by 2024.
The NATO allies spending the least on defense include Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain and Italy, while the highest-spending members are the US, Greece, the UK and Romania.