Ahead of the meeting of NATO Leaders in London to mark the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday (29 November 2019) gave details of large increases in Allied defence spending.
Mr. Jens Stoltenberg announced that in 2019 defence spending across European Allies and Canada increased in real terms by 4.6 %, making this the fifth consecutive year of growth. He also revealed that by the end of 2020, those Allies will have invested $130 billion more since 2016. Based on the latest estimates, the accumulated increase in defence spending by the end of 2024 will be $400 billion. Mr. Stoltenberg said: “This is unprecedented progress and it is making NATO stronger.’
The Secretary General also confirmed that more Allies are meeting the guideline of spending 2 % of GDP on defence. This year, 9 Allies will meet the guideline, up from only 3 Allies just a few years ago. The majority of Allies have plans in place to reach 2 % by 2024. Mr Stoltenberg said: “Allies are also investing billions more in new capabilities and contributing to NATO deployments around the world. So we are on the right track but we cannot be complacent. We must keep up the momentum.”
NATO Heads of State and Government will meet in London on 3-4 December and the Secretary General said he expected they will take decisions to continue NATO’s adaptation, including more improvements to the readiness of Allied forces; recognising space as an operational domain; and updating NATO’s action plan against terrorism. Leaders are also due to have a strategic discussion on Russia, the future of arms control, as well as the rise of China.
The Secretary General highlighted how NATO continues to be the bedrock of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. He acknowledged that while there were sometimes disagreements among Allies, they have always been able to overcome their differences and unite round their core task; protecting and defending each other. Mr Stoltenberg said: “Our Alliance is active, agile and adapting for the future. Standing together, North America and Europe represent half the world’s economic and military might. In uncertain times, we need strong multinational institutions like NATO. So we must continue to strengthen them every day, to keep all our citizens safe. And that is what we are going to do when Leaders meet next week.”