NATO Summit | Spain must double its defense spending

Spainthe third NATO country that spends the least on defense relative to the size of its economy, should double your spending volume to fulfill the commitment made by the partners of the Atlantic Alliance of allocate at least 2% of its gross domestic product to defensean objective that has been reinforced at the Madrid summit with a general consensus to increase military investment to deal with growing threats.

This is how he transferred President of the Government, Pedro Sánchezduring the closing day of the summit, in which he reiterated – first in an interview on TVE and, later, in his press conference – that Spain sets itself the deadline approach that threshold in 2029while asking all the political forces to support that purpose: “We have to meet that goal. I will ask that it be a country commitment.”

Beyond the reticence that may arise among the different political parties -Unidas Podemos, a coalition partner of the PSOE in the progressive government, has already announced that it will not support it-, the truth is that Spain faces a considerable budgetary effort to reach the promised figures. According to data published this week by NATO, estimated defense spending for 2022 is $13.035 billion, at constant 2015 priceswhile at current prices it amounts to 14,810 million.

It’s just the 1.01% of GDPwhich places Spain as the third country that spends the least money on defense among the allies: only Luxembourgwith 0.58%, and Iceland, which does not have armed forces, are inferior in military effort. And although only nine of the 30 members of the Atlantic Alliance reach the 2% threshold, countries such as Poland or Greece far exceed it.

A notable effort in the medium term

To fulfill this commitment, made by all the allies at the 2014 Wales summit despite the fact that it is not legally binding, Spain should allocate another 12,805 million dollars to defense this yearin constant terms, which represents almost doubling its budget, until reaching about 25,840 million. And the amount will be higher as the GDP, as is desirable, increases in the coming years.

In any case, in relative terms, the distance is the same, the contribution must be doubled: if now it devotes one point of GDP to military investment, Spain should add another point. A remarkable effort, since, since it was agreed in 2014, the country’s defense spending has barely increased by one tenth.

The expenditure commitment, moreover, may be increased in the coming years: the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberghas already warned that, in the context of growing tension with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, that threshold is “increasingly the floor, not the ceiling”. In this sense, the Government, this one or the one that succeeds it, will have to convince all citizens of the need for this expense if it wants to comply with what was promised.

And it is that Spain is one of the countries that spends the least money per capita on defense, with barely 275 dollars per year per inhabitant in 2022, less than half that of allies that also do not reach that 2% of GDP, such as France (734 dollars per inhabitant) or Germany (624 dollars). A) Yes, citizens of up to 20 member countries of the Atlantic Alliance will contribute more money per capita to defense this year than the Spanish, who allocate almost eight times less to that purpose than the Americans and three times less than the British and the Dutch.

Spain if it fulfills two other commitments

Nevertheless, Spain does comply with NATO’s second financial commitment, which requires allocating more than 20% of all defense spending to military equipment. Specifically, this year it is estimated that it will invest in this chapter about 3,415 million, 26.2% of the entire defense budget, always according to data from the Atlantic Alliance.

This was highlighted by Sánchez this Thursday – “we are well above it”, he stressed – while underlining that Spain also meets the criteria of being present in all NATO missionswith the sole exception of Kosovo for diplomatic reasons, since the Spanish State does not recognize the sovereignty of that territory.

And, in absolute terms, Spain is the tenth contributor to NATO, with defense spending representing 1.24% of collective spending. Likewise, it is the seventh country that contributes the most to the operating budget of the Atlantic Alliancethe money that the allies put together to sustain the daily activity of the organization, just over 2,500 million euros this year, which is covered from the headquarters in Brussels to the joint military exercises.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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