EU defence spending skyrockets
Fuelled by the ongoing war in Ukraine, the European Union's (EU) military spending reached an unprecedented €270 billion in 2023, marking a significant increase from the €240 billion recorded in 2022. This marks the ninth consecutive year of growth in EU defence expenditures, underscoring the heightened focus on bolstering security capabilities amidst the geopolitical turmoil.
"The war in Ukraine has undoubtedly had a profound impact on EU defence spending," remarked Jana Čepáková, an analyst at Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency. "Numerous countries have ramped up their defence budgets to deter Russian aggression and strengthen their own defences."
Poland and Lithuania witnessed the most substantial spikes in military spending in 2023, with respective increases of 26% and 22%. Germany, the EU's economic powerhouse, also joined the upward trend, boosting its defence expenditure by 4.3%.
In contrast, France, the EU's second-largest economy, experienced a modest 0.7% increase in military spending in 2023. Despite the overall surge in defence budgets, EU member states still fall short of the NATO-mandated target of allocating 2% of their GDP to defence. In 2023, the average EU member state dedicated 1.5% of its GDP to defence.
"There remains a considerable gap for EU member states to achieve NATO's 2% target," Čepáková stated.
Echoing this sentiment, European Council President Charles Michel has advocated for a substantial increase in EU defence spending. He has proposed a collective EU defence expenditure of €350 billion by 2030.
"We must elevate our defence investments," Michel declared during a speech in Brussels on Thursday. "The war in Ukraine has exposed our vulnerability and the need for self-reliance in defence."
The upward trajectory of EU military spending is likely to persist in the foreseeable future, driven by the ongoing war in Ukraine and the perceived growing threat posed by Russia.
Translation by Iurie Tataru