NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg rumages in his toolbox
NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg looks around in his toolbox before May 25th. He needs tools to squeeze more money out of his European allies.
The United States has threatened to weaken their commitment to NATO unless European countries put more money on the table.
The requirement is that all must take their share of the bill. To ensure that this happens, the United States wants that all countries should put in place a national plan for spending.
This will show what the country is doing to get the defense budget closer to the target, which is a level of 2 percent of the GDP.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reminds that the 28 Member States have made a clear decision to rectify the unequal burden distribution in the alliance.
– It is not reasonable that the US accounts for over half of NATO’s overall defense spending, says Stoltenberg to NTB.
Tre main issues
So far not taken any formal decision on how national plans should look like. But the matter is on the agenda when heads of state and government of NATO gather for a mini summit in Brussels on Thursday, May 25th.
NATO is trying to develop additional tools to ensure that countries continue to approach the 2 percent pledge, says Stoltenberg. He looks among other things at lists showing what each country is doing to reach the monetary goal. Stoltenberg cites three key elements as particularly important in these charts:
- Size of the defense budget
- Investments in defense capacity
- Contribution to NATO operations
– I’m sure we will have decisions to this effect before May 25th. Then I can come back with more details, says the NATO’s commander in chief.
Long term plan
Norway already has a long-term plan for the Armed Forces. It sets the framework for defense budgets in Norway until 2020 and also sets out the direction for the period after this.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Consevatives) believes long-term plan is a good road map for Norway.
– Therefore the question is whether they are going to ask for even more. I’m not sure if there will be a menu for what this should be, she says.
– One possibility is that the government also comes with a statement about the use of money. This can happen, for example, in a government declaration after the election.
The Countries are different
US demands is that Europeans must make credible progress plans.
At the same time it is recognized in NATO that the 28 countries can not be pressed into the same shape. Some countries have a statute that they will reach 2 percent, others leave the question for budget negotiations from year to year.
Central to NATO is working simultaneously to develop better instruments to measure progress. One idea is to make projections for future spending.
Asks for nuancing
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has previously stated that she thinks the percentage goals are “nonsense.” The important thing is not the percentage, but what the money is used for, she says.
– The money must be used on defense capabilities and not only on employment measures under the defense budget.
According to Solberg, the use of money should be considered in a more nuanced manner.
– Norway does not use 2 percent of GDP on defense today, but makes important investments in such things as combat aircraft and submarines, she points out.
– We need to increase the budgets of the areas that provide NATO and its member states more defense capability overall.
Facts about NATO’s budget goals
- Heads of State and Government of the 28 member countries of NATO adopted at the summit in Wales in 2014 that the trend of declining defense budgets should be broken.
- According to the decision, countries that spend less than 2 percent of GDP on defense make reverse the cuts, then gradually increase their budgets and move towards 2 percent of GDP over ten years.
- Only five member countries in NATO currently use more than 2 percent of GDP in defense: the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, Greece and Estonia.
- In Norway, the share was 1.55 per cent of GDP in 2016. It is not expected that the proportion will increase significantly in the coming years.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today