Germany is poised to renege on its promise to boost NATO spending, backtracking on a public commitment last year by Chancellor Angela Merkel to increase German military expenditure to 1.5% of gross domestic product by 2024 – bringing it closer to the 2% level set by NATO themselves, according to the Wall Street Journal.
If confirmed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the move would mark a fresh step in the gradual estrangement between the U.S. and its erstwhile loyal European ally and comes after Mr. Trump’s repeated attacks of North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders for not meeting a 2% military-spending target. –WSJ
German soldiers during a NATO-led military exercise in October in Trondheim, Norway. PHOTO:JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Berlin currently spends around €43 billion ($49 billion), equal to just over 1.2% of GDP on defense. Under a new plan unveiled on Monday by the finance ministry, the spending would rise to just 1.37% of GDP next year, then decrease again to 1.33% in 2019, 1.29% in 2022 and 1.25% in 2023.
“The commitment we have made to NATO states that spending should reach 2% if the budget conditions allow for it. We haven’t abandoned the target but it remains a challenge that the federal government wants to master,” said a senior government official.
Berlin’s change of heart is the second recent rebuke of President Trump – who publicly embarrassed Germany during a July 2018 bilateral breakfast over their reliance on Russian energy.
Germany is “captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia,” said Trump, adding “The former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas.”
“Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate?” Trump asked. “It should have never been allowed to happen. So Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”
Bilateral Breakfast with NATO Secretary General in Brussels, Belgium… pic.twitter.com/l0EP3lzhCM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
Berlin has not taken kindly to Trump’s rhetoric, which includes criticism over Germany’s decision to let Chinese technology giant Huawei build their next generation 5G mobile network.