03.12.2019 | NATO spending exposed: How Macron and Merkel have 'shirked' commitment as Trump fumes
Source - The Daily Express

The US in particular has grown impatient with Europeans powers for their apparent failure to meet spending targets. Tensions are high between the US and France after the Trump administration said it was proposing "duties of up to 100 percent" on $2.4billion (£1.8billion) on French products. On defence, European nations have boosted their spending in recent months, but this fails to paint the picture in a much more optimistic light, as the vast majority of nations have long neglected their commitments. NATO guidelines state that each member state should spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defence, but as James Rogers highlights in his recent report for British Interest, this has been far from the reality. The US, the UK and smaller nations such as Greece have met this target, but they are in the minority. One country – Latvia – has now met the target having failed to do so in 2015 with big increases in spending, while Slovakia and Lithuania are categorised as "improvers" in Mr Rogers' report as they have not met the target but have increased spending. However, described in the report as "shirkers", France and Germany are joined by some of Europe's biggest economies in failing to meet the target of 2 percent, and also failing to even show improvement. Mr Rogers highlights that this has meant allies such as the UK who are meeting their target are being "short changed" by nations failing to meet their commitments. More surprising, the UK and the US combined now account for a substantial 76 percent of NATO spending as a whole. This means that Britain has spent £75billion more than Germany and £69billion more than France over the past five years. This means that while President Trump's foreign policy is often reckless, on this occasion his gripe with NATO nations is justified. As Mr Rogers highlights in the report, many in NATO are aware that with patience running thin at the White House, any risk of division is in turn a security risk to European nations. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary-General warned of this when he asserted: "We have…to understand that, especially after Brexit, [the] EU cannot defend Europe." Despite this acknowledgement from the head of NATO, Mr Macron appears determined to secure Europe's independence from the US. Mr Macron having called for a "true European Army" 12 months ago amid French concerns surrounding Donald Trump's foregin policy. He also provocatively listed Washington in a list of threats alongside conventional opponents to NATO, saying: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America." But the German Chancellor has recently defied Mr Macron, as Mrs Merkel accused him of indulging in “disruptive politics” and said she was “tired of picking up the pieces” after him. If divisions are to be reversed within the crucial alliance, it would appear that Mr Macron needs to get behind the agreed strategy. And more importantly, major players such as Germany and France need to up their spending immediately to prevent further unrest in London and Washington.

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