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European Commission President Urges EU To Resist US Call On NATO Spending

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged European Union members to dismiss pressure from U.S Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis regarding defense spending.

Mattis sent a clear message to NATO allies Wednesday, saying members need to increase defense spending or risk a more “moderate” American commitment. Just five out of 28 countries currently meet the 2 percent of GDP spending goal, with the U.S. putting up 70 percent of NATO funds. (RELATED: When The NATO Bill Hits The Table, These Are The Countries Who Hesitate To Reach For The Wallet)

“It has been the American message for many, many years,” Juncker said at the Munich Security Conference Thursday. “I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this.”

Juncker argues Europe’s spending on development and humanitarian aid should be taken into account, as “modern stability policy” is made up of several components.

“I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he said. “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. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending.”

Juncker further said countries like Germany would no longer have a budget surplus if they increased defense spending to meet the 2 percent goal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated Juncker’s development aid argument Friday.

“There’s no question we need to do more, but questions of development aid, crisis prevention and others are just as important,” Merkel said at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Berlin. “My belief is we should all be aware of NATO’s value to us all.”

Canada is one of five countries that spend less than 1 percent of GDP on defense. Trudeau still argues the country is among the “strongest actors” in NATO.

“We also recognize there are many ways of evaluating one’s contributions to NATO,” Trudeau said at the news conference. “When you look at the countries that regularly step up — delivering troops, participating in missions, being there to do the heavy lifting in the alliance — Germany and Canada have always been amongst the strongest actors in NATO.”

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