Juncker calls on Europe to reject the US ultimatum on defense expenditure

OLIVIER HOSLET

European commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gives final news conference during at the end of an European Summit in Brussels, Belgium, 15 December 2016. EU leaders meet for a one-day summit which will mainly focus on the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on migration and the EU Internal Security Strategy. 27 leaders are scheduled to later meet informally for a dinner to discuss the Brexit process.

Juncker calls on Europe to reject the US ultimatum on defense expenditure


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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded to US Defense Secretary’s ultimatum on Thursday by calling on Europe not to increase military expenditure.

Addressing the annual Munich Security Conference, the President of the European Commission reacted to the ultimatum presented by US Defense Secretary Mattis on Wednesday, who called for more military spending.

“It has been the American message for many, many years {to increase expenditure}. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said, noting that Germany would not have a budget surplus if Berlin did reach 2% military expenditure.

President Juncker stated that foreign aid should be seen as part of the security spending equation, specifying that “if you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different.”

However, the Trump administration has made clear that NATO could be seen as “obsolete” if Europe does not spend more on military capability.

“If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense,” Mattis said on Wednesday.

NATO member states have a long-standing commitment to a 2% GDP expenditure on defense, which so far only four states other than the United State adhere to: Britain, Poland, Estonia, and Greece.

The United States puts up 70% of alliance funds. And although the US Defense budget roughly matches the defense spending of 14 biggest military powers combined – President Trump has committed to a massive programme of defense spending.

epa05796186 (L-R) British Defence Minister Michael Fallon, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US Defence Minister James Mattis, attend the second day of the NATO Defense Ministers council at Alliance headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, 16 February 2017. Nato defense ministers are gathering for a two-day meeting.  EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

British Defence Minister Michael Fallon, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US Defence Minister James Mattis, attend the second day of the NATO Defense Ministers council at Alliance headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, 16 February 2017. Nato defense ministers are gathering for a two-day meeting. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

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