Exercise Trident Juncture NATO

NATO: Which Countries Pay Their Share On Defence?

The alliance has released estimates showing which nations meet the 2% of GDP guideline spend on defence.

Exercise Trident Juncture NATO

The number of NATO nations meeting or exceeding the alliance's target of spending 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defence has increased, according to the latest official estimates.

The UK, which is one of 10 nations believed to be hitting the target, has moved up to third from fourth in the list of proportional spending, while Norway has joined those who are on track.

Last year, nine of the allies were estimated to have spent 2% or more on defence, but a real change estimate increase of 4.3% spending within the military alliance has seen members contributing more.

NATO data estimates there has been a UK defence spending boost on last year from 2.14% to 2.43%.

The US remains the alliance's biggest contributor, spending 3.87% of its GDP, while Greece has moved into second place at 2.58%.

Despite Bulgaria's spend shooting from 1.61% to an estimated 3.25% following a $1.3bn F-16 fighter jet deal in 2019, the data shows it is now failing to hit the target – falling from second to 11th place with an estimated 1.93% in 2020.

Latvia (2.32%), Lithuania (2.28%), Poland (2.3%) and Romania (2.38%) are all legally bound to meet the 2% target, so all make the top 10.

Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines Exercise Joint Warrior 2018
Royal Marines on a NATO exercise (Picture: MOD).

Canada sits at 21st on the list, spending 1.45% of its GDP on defence – a rise from 1.31% estimated in 2019.

NATO estimates that by the end of 2024, European NATO allies and Canada will have added an extra $400 billion dollars to their defence budgets since 2016. 

US President Donald Trump has previously criticised Canada's contribution during a NATO summit in London last December.

Mr Trump has previously called the spending arrangement a "rip-off", claiming the US keeps Europe safe while suffering in trade with the European Union.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with allied defence ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the group expects increased spending to continue.

"COVID-19 has not made other challenges go away. So it remains vital to invest in our defence," he said, mentioning threats from the so-called Islamic State in Iraq, Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Russia and China.

He also pushed toward an extension of the New START agreement between the US and Russia - an arms reduction agreement that is due to expire in 2021.

France is estimated to have spent 2.11% of GDP on defence in the last year, while Germany is reportedly hitting 1.57% – an increase on 2019 but still below the NATO guideline.

Luxembourg was at the bottom of the list with a GDP spend of 0.64%, now the only nation estimated below 1%, while Belgium (1.10%) and Spain (1.16%) remain in the bottom three.

NATO is made up of 30 countries, an increase of one after the Republic of North Macedonia (1.27%) joined earlier this year.

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 cooperation among its members and to counter the threat posed by the USSR, also known as the Soviet Union.

Cover image: NATO's Exercise Trident Juncture (Picture: NATO).