A large majority of Germans, 75 percent, oppose President Donald Trump’s efforts to increase defense spending of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a survey revealed.
Trump has long taken a strong stance on NATO equality, saying all 29 members should follow through on previously made commitments to spending at least 2 percent of their country’s respective gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.
Trump has specifically targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel and her country’s commitment to the alliance, calling it unfair that Germany is the European Union’s largest economy, but only spends 1.24 percent of GDP on defense versus the U.S.’ 3.5 percent, per the latest NATO estimate.
“They have to step it up immediately,” Trump said. “Germany is a rich country. We are not going to put up with it.”
Under the 2014 Wales Summit, NATO states agreed to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, among other requirements. In other words, Trump is simply pushing Germany and the NATO countries to respect an agreement they made nearly four years ago.
The poll, which was conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the German Press Agency (DPA) a few days before the NATO summit in Brussels, shows that 35 percent of respondents are opposed to Germany increasing defense spending to even 1.5 percent of GDP, which the country is planning to do by 2025.
Former Defense Secretary for the United Kingdom Michael Fallon agreed with Trump’s push, saying his claims were legitimate, especially for the most prominent EU countries. (RELATED: Former UK Defense Secretary Says Trump Is Right On NATO Criticism)
“Germany, Spain, Italy need to be paying more,” Fallon said.
The lack of support for a defense spending increase could signify turmoil for Merkel’s conservative coalition government, which currently favors the spending increase to keep up with NATO demands.
Additionally, the poll of German respondents revealed that a plurality of voters, 42 percent, want U.S. troops to withdraw from their country.
A remaining 37 percent want the U.S. personnel to stay, and 21 percent were undecided or chose not to answer.
Germany has long benefited from the security the Americans stationed there provided, as well as from the economic boost to towns near U.S. bases for nearly half a century.
Germany also holds the second largest amount of U.S. troops overseas, nearly 35,000, second to Japan.
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