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On 5th February 2015, NATO Defence Ministers met in Brussels and reviewed the implementation of the [Sept. 2014 Wales] Summit’s decisions. They said nothing publicly about how decisions on defence spending in NATO member states were shaping up in relation to the Wales commitment.
In this short policy brief, we analyse and assess the post-Wales defence expenditure performance of 14 members of the alliance where 2015 expenditure decisions have already been formally announced or where the level of expenditure has become clear through some other release of information into the public domain.
Our analysis excludes the United States, which is already carrying the largest share of the burden in terms of NATO country defence spending, but otherwise includes a sufficiently diverse group of large and small members of the Alliance to allow some observations to be made as to how the overall performance of the rest of NATO is developing.
Preliminary reports from fourteen countries examined for fiscal year 2015 suggest that:
-- only one (Estonia) will spend 2% of GDP on defence.
-- Six out of the fourteen states examined, namely Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands and Romania will increase their military expenditure this year but not meet the 2% target. In Poland’s case, a further commitment has been made to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP in 2016 from a figure just below that in 2015.
-- Six countries will cut defence expenditure in 2015. These include the UK, Germany, Canada, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria.
-- France is on course for a flat defence budget in 2015 compared to 2014.
The September 2014 NATO Wales Summit Declaration contained specific commitments with regard to defence expenditure. To quote directly from the Declaration:
“Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so…..
“Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:
• Halt any decline in defence expenditure;
• Aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
• Aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls.”