Just The Facts

Should Germany Really Have to Spend More on Defense?

It is not on track to meet NATO commitments, but Germany argues it is paying in other ways.

Credit: MagMac83 Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Germany spends just 1.1% of its GDP on defense as of 2016.
  • Germany’s foreign minister argues that spending on security includes climate change mitigation and spending on refugees.
  • Germany’s €19 billion in the 2017 budget for spending on refugee resettlement equals about 0.5% of GDP.

1. In 2014, at the request of U.S. President Obama, all NATO member countries including Germany pledged to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. The Trump Administration has made more vocal requests.

2. Germany spends just 1.1% of its GDP on defense as of 2016, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

3. The Defense Ministry plans to raise that share to 1.22% in 2017, with additional commitments for marginal increases through 2020.

4. This would still be close to €25 billion short of 2% each year.

5. However, calls to increase German defense spending faster have been rejected by German foreign minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

6. Germany’s foreign minister argues that spending on security extends to more than just military and defense, and includes development aid, climate change mitigation and spending on refugees.

7. Germany’s €19 billion in the 2017 budget for spending on refugee and asylum-seeker resettlement – many from countries of previous U.S. war operations, such as Afghanistan or Iraq – equals about 0.5% of GDP.

8. This resettlement spending thus makes up 1.75% – nearly 2% – when combined with projected direct defense spending.

Sources: The Globalist Research Center, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, IMF, German Finance Ministry, Reuters, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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