NATO has released its official data concerning defence spending of member countries in 2016. The publication comes amidst ongoing complaints from the U.S. side concerning Europe’s failure to carry a fair share of the NATO financial burden.
The figures show, first of all, a substantial increase (+3.8%) in overall NATO defence expenditures, after six years of decline, followed by a slight (0.5%) increase in 2015.
With reference to the NATO guideline that 2 % of each nation’s GDP be devoted to defence, only five countries out of 27 currently meet or exceed that target: the U.S. (3.61%), Greece (2.36%), Estonia (2.18%), the U.K. (2.17%) and Poland (2.01%). The combined total for NATO Europe works out to 1.47% — a marginal improvement over the 1.44% figure in 2015, but still a long way short of 2%. The European total dropped below 2% in 2001 and has been trending downwards ever since.
A second NATO guideline concerns the percentage of defence expenditure devoted to equipment procurement. Europe comes out slightly better here, with nine countries meeting or exceeding the NATO target of 20%.
It should be noted that, in view of differences between the definition of NATO defence expenditure and national definitions, the NATO figures can diverge from those published by national authorities or given in national budgets. Equipment expenditure includes both spending on major equipment and Research & Development expenditure devoted to major equipment. Personnel expenditure includes pensions paid to retirees.