U.S. to cut spending on NATO budget, Germany to pay more

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg takes part in a news conference on November 28, 2019.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg takes part in a news conference on November 28, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP


Berlin to match Washington’s contribution of 16.35%

The U.S. is to cut its contribution to NATO’s operating budget, officials said on Thursday, with Germany increasing payments as the alliance tries to appease President Donald Trump ahead of a summit next week.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticised European members for freeloading on the U.S., singling out Germany — the continent’s economic powerhouse — for lagging behind on an alliance commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.

While most of Mr. Trump’s anger has been focused on European national defence budgets, American officials have also grumbled about how much Washington contributes to NATO’s running costs. “All allies have agreed a new cost-sharing formula. Under the new formula, cost shares attributed to most European allies and Canada will go up, while the US share will come down,” a NATO official said. “This is an important demonstration of allies’ commitment to the alliance and to fairer burden-sharing.”

Washington currently pays 22.1% of the NATO budget — which totalled $2.5 billion (2.37 billion euros) in 2019 — and Germany 14.8%, under a formula based on each country’s gross national income.

Under the new agreement, the U.S. will cut its contribution to 16.35% of the total, Germany’s will rise to the same level and other allies will pay more.

Though the sums involved are relatively small in military terms — the 29 alliance members spent a total of nearly a trillion dollars on defence in 2018 — not all allies are happy with the move.

Diplomats say France has refused to go along with the new arrangement and will keep its contribution the same at 10.5%, arguing that the deal to change the figures was cooked up between Mr. Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel without consulting other allies.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is expected to announce new figures on Friday showing how much more allies have spent since Mr. Trump came to power in 2016 in a bid to improve the mood going into Wednesday’s leaders’ meeting in London.

During the 2018 summit in Brussels, Mr. Trump unleashed a public tirade during a breakfast meeting with Ms. Merkel, berating her for weak defence spending and accusing her of cosying up to Russia — and there were fears of a repeat performance this year.

French President Emmanuel Macron added to the gloom earlier this month by declaring NATO was experiencing “brain death”, thanks to poor coordination between Europe and the U.S., and Turkey’s military operation against the Kurds in northern Syria.

Despite an angry response from many allies, the French leader stood by his comments after talks with Stoltenberg in Paris, saying “a wake-up call was necessary”.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 2:27:49 PM |

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