President Donald Trump allegedly handed a bill totaling more than $370 billion to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for money Germany “owes” the NATO alliance in defense spending.
The Sunday Times reports Trump handed the invoice to Merkel during their first face-to-face meeting March 17 in Washington, D.C. The exact figure wasn’t revealed but it was supposedly estimated from Germany’s total defense spending since 2002 — the year then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder pledged to increase military contributions after years of pacifism.
A German minister called the move “outrageous” and said Merkel “ignored the provocation.”
“The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations,” the unnamed minister told The Sunday Times.
Trump called out Germany over its lack of military spending in a series of tweets following the meeting with Merkel.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen quickly rejected the claim, saying, “There is no account where debts are registered with NATO.”
While NATO doesn’t keep a debt account for each member state, and the alliance’s 2 percent of GDP pledge wasn’t agreed upon until 2014, it loses out on more than $20 billion in German military spending each year. (RELATED: If Germany Did Actually Owe NATO, The Amount Would Be Staggering [Graph])
The total gross domestic product in Germany since the start of 2009 is approximately $28.5 trillion, according to NATO figures. During these eight years, Germany spent about $359.8 billion on its military. The average defense expenditure per year is around 1.27 percent of total GDP.
If Germany met NATO’s 2 percent target each year, it would have racked up $569.5 billion since 2009, leaving a $209.7 billion gap in funding. The invoice Trump allegedly handed over to Merkel covers seven additional years.
Germany is far from alone. Out of the alliance’s 28 members, just five meet the spending goal.
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