Only a third of NATO states currently meet minimum defense spend threshold

NATO flag.
NATO flag. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Only 11 of the 31 NATO member states, predominantly located on the alliance's Eastern flank, currently meet the two percent of GDP per annum requirement, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reports.

The leaders of NATO's member states, which now number 31, agreed in Vilnius that all allies will raise their defense spending to at least two percent of GDP – the putative benchmark level required for membership.

Around a third of member states, including Estonia at 2.73 percent of GDP, meet this requirement as things stand.

Naturally, member states' GDP levels vary significantly, while defense expenditure can cover a range of areas, including weaponry, ammunition, personnel, maintenance and more.

A comparison of Estonia, Italy and Finland reveals that Italy spends the most money on personnel, of the three, at 60 percent.

In Estonia, the most is spent on defense forces' operations and maintenance of the, while new member Finland spends 50 percent on equipment and development

Across the alliance, defense spend in absolute terms has risen from US$910 billion in 2014, to US$1.1 trillion this year (projected).

The U.S. spent the most at €743 billion, up from €660 billion the previous year, while the European NATO member states plus Canada together spent €356 billion, up from €250 billion.

Other progress has been made since 2014, when only the U.S., the U.K. and Greece met the 2-percent threshold, which had just been established.

Since then, eight more members have joined the club, all of them on the eastern flank: Poland at 3.90 percent of GDP per annum, Lithuania at 2.54 percent of GDP, Finland with 2.45 percent, Romania (2.44 percent), Hungary (2.43) percent, Latvia (2.27) percent and Slovakia (2.03 percent), in addition to Estonia at 2.73 percent of GDP.

Hungary's defense budget has grown by 270 percent since 2014.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Andrew Whyte

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