Italy wants NATO to change defence spending rules

EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint news conference following their meeting at Chigi Palace in Rome.

Italy wants NATO to change defence spending rules


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Italy’s coalition government could incur the wrath of US President Donald J. Trump in the coming days if the Italian government moves forward with a plan to request that NATO change the way the alliance calculates defence spending for each country.

According to NATO’s charter, each member must spend  2% of its GDP on defence. Italy, which spends below the amount, wants other areas, including cybersecurity and the protection of infrastructure, to be counted as part of the country’s defence spending.

“Spending money to develop cybersecurity defences should count the same as spending money to buy tanks,” said Italy’s Defence Minister, Elisabetta Trenta. ” I am not saying we should not spend money, but that we should spend money on things that were not previously considered as defence spending.” 

Trenta has had to tread lightly with Italy’s other 28 NATO allies due to the controversial position of one of her colleagues in the current government, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who has not been shy about his deeply sceptical views towards NATO and for publicly stating his pro-Russian attitudes and open admiration for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Italy, according to Ms Trenta, is already one of the largest contributors to NATO because of the troops it sends on peacekeeping missions. The Eurozone’s third-largest economy contributed  1.15% of its GDP in 2018, according to estimates from NATO, similar to the spending levels of 2016 and 2017.

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