German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called on NATO Friday to revise its 2 percent of GDP spending criteria and instead measure contributions through an “activity index.”
Germany spends 1.2 percent of GDP on defense despite a recent campaign to modernize and expand its armed forces. Von der Leyen said countries that contribute more than what’s expected of them in certain areas should be able to fall below the 2-percent target and still meet their obligations to the alliance. Participation in NATO operations and contributions in personnel and hardware are examples of areas where Germany suggests countries can make up for a lack of defense spending.
“For me the question is who is really providing added value to the alliance,” von der Leyen told AFP in an interview published Friday.
Von der Leyen’s proposal comes on the day of the first face-to-face meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump. Germany’s NATO spending is one of the issues on the agenda, as the Trump administration demands allies step up their contributions. (RELATED: Merkel To Use ‘Dual Strategy’ In Meetings With Trump)
Merkel recently argued development aid should be accounted for in a country’s spending on defense.
“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 news conference in February. “My belief is we should all be aware of NATO’s value to us all.”
Only the U.S., the U.K., Greece, Poland and Estonia currently meet NATO’s spending requirement according to numbers released in December.
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