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12 Feb 2024

Nato: Which countries pay their share on defence?

Nato: Which countries pay their share on defence?
UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024
Originally posted on Forces.net

The number of Nato member nations meeting or exceeding the alliance's spending target is only one-third, according to official estimates.

The numbers have been highlighted after former US president Donald Trump made comments suggesting he might encourage Russia to attack members of the alliance who do not pay enough to Nato.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has criticised Mr Trump saying his words put US and European troops are "at increased risk".

In 2023, Mr Stoltenberg highlighted that allies had made progress, as there were now 11 nations clearing the spending threshold in comparison to 2022's seven.

The UK is one of the nations out of 30 believed to be hitting the target, but is no longer the fourth in the list of proportional spending, dropping to tenth, just ahead of Slovakia (2.03%).

Nato sets alliance members the aim of spending 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defence.

But the latest estimates show now only 11 countries are achieving the target with France (1.90%), Germany (1.57%) and Norway (1.67%) notably below the 2% threshold. 

NATO Image

UK's defence spending

However, Nato data suggests that UK defence spending as a percentage of GDP is also not in the strongest position with it once again dropping.

Despite increased threats and tensions in the world, the UK's percentage spent on defence has dropped rather than risen over recent years from 2.14% in 2014 to an estimated 2.07% in 2023.

Ukraine war

The trend of countries that are bordering Ukraine, Russia, or its neighbour and ally Belarus, is now exceeding Nato's 2% guideline, following Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Estonia (2.73%), Lithuania (2.54%), Finland (2.45%), Romania (2.44%), Hungary (2.43%) and Latvia (2.07%) are all exceeding the alliance's guideline for defence expenditure.

Poland is the alliance's biggest spender as a share of GDP, contributing 3.90%, spending even more than the US (3.49%) in second and Greece (3.01%) the next closest.

The nations falling short of the alliance's target are France (1.90%), Montenegro (1.87%), North Macedonia (1.87%), Bulgaria (1.84%), Croatia (1.79%), Albania (1.76%), Netherlands (1.70%), Norway (1.67%), Denmark (1.65%), Germany (1.57%), Czech Republic (1.50%), Portugal (1.48%), Italy (1.46%), Canada (1.38%), Slovenia (1.35%), Turkey (1.31%), Spain (1.26%), Belgium (1.13%) and Luxembourg (0.72%).

Iceland, which does not have any armed forces, was not featured on the list.

Formed in the aftermath of the Second World War, Nato's original goals were to secure peace in Europe, promote co-operation among its members and counter the threat posed by the USSR, also known as the Soviet Union.

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