Germany reports a record high NATO defense spending in 2021, proposing a budget of € 53 billion ($ 63.8 billion) for the current year.
That figure marks an increase of 3.2% compared to the previous year. In 2020, spending is capped at around € 51.4 billion.
Countries including Germany hope that the increase in NATO spending will subside the transatlantic dispute about burden-sharing among members.
Former US President Donald Trump accuses Germany of not contributing enough to NATO, and subsequently withdrawing thousands of US troops stationed in the country.
However, earlier this month, US President Joe Biden announced that there would be a freeze on the deployment of US troops from Germany.
Stoltenberg expected pressure from Biden
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said time and time again that he expects to take pressure on the issue from US President Joe Biden, who has promised to improve relations with NATO, unlike his predecessors.
“All US presidents over the past decade have advocated more defense spending by European NATO partners,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with the German news agency dpa last year.
Biden, he said, had asked European allies to invest more before his election.
In 2018, Trump offered the possibility of the US withdrawing from the alliance if partners soon met their goal of spending 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.
Germany’s defense spending in 2020 is in line with NATO calculations, i.e. German spending should be equivalent to 1.57% of GDP – up from 1.36% a year earlier.
Expenditures remain the same despite the pandemic
Based on Glass magazine, internal analysis for 2022 also points to a severely underfunded armed forces and argues that NATO’s planning goal of having Germany and other countries contribute 2% of GDP in the next few years, “cannot be initiated or realized in time,” under current budget.
Given the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, however, Stoltenberg said defense financing must remain the same, if not increased.
“All of this has created a new security environment where continued investment in our security is necessary,” he said.