Jens Stoltenberg: Defence spending by NATO’s Europe states rises

We are faced with uncertainty, we are faced with more threats, more security challenges than in a generation

Baku. 31 May. REPORT.AZ/ Defence spending by Europe’s NATO states is set to rise for the first time in nearly a decade, figures show, as fears over Russian aggression and the  migrant crisis in the Mediterranean stoke anxiety over security across the continent, Report informs citing The Financial Times.

But NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg warned, in an interview with the Financial Times, that a Uk vote to leave the EU could throw the turnround into jeopardy.

“The forecast for 2016, based on figures from allied nations, indicates that 2016 will be the first year with increased defence spending among European allies for the first time in many, many years,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

“The UK is the largest European provider of defence capabilities in NATO, [it has] the biggest defence spending, it has the biggest defence investments . . . second only to the United States in the whole alliance . . . a strong UK in a strong Europe is important for unity and stability,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

The EU is becoming increasingly important in almost all the challenges NATO has to deal with, Mr Stoltenberg added. The UK is “key” in developing the relationship between the two, he said.

“NATO and the European Union are working in tandem. For the UK [remaining] is a good position to be in, to be able to sit at both the NATO table and the EU table, since both organisations are so important to how we are responding to the instability we are faced with, both to the east and to the south.”

Last year, NATO’s European allies spent $253bn on defence compared with a US spend of $618bn. According to the 2 per cent guideline, European countries should be spending an additional $100bn annually on their militaries. The current spend is equivalent to around 1.43 per cent of gross domestic product.

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