NATO defence chiefs hold first summit of the year with 2% target still at issue

NATO Mattis
Photo: Francois Lenoir/Reuters
NATO Mattis
Photo: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

NATO defence ministers will gather in Brussels today for their first meeting of the year.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis is likely to again urge his counterparts to increase military spending to the 2% GDP target. Despite Donald Trump’s persistence, only the UK, Greece, Estonia, Romania and Poland met the 2% target last year. While France expects to hit the target by 2025, Germany—which would have to double its current defence spending—remains unyielding despite US demands.

After the EU signed its own defence pact last year, known as PESCO, Mattis’ renewed plea will likely fall on deaf ears. Indeed, PESCO, which will initially focus on military training, cyber defence and improvements to military mobility this year, could provide a unique threat to NATO, as it provides a means for European countries to cooperate on threats closer to home.

As such, the US may need to be wary that a renewed focus on European threats, such as immigration in the Mediterranean, does not detract from NATO’s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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