More than half of the German citizens surveyed in a recent poll think that Europe does not need the U.S. to defend the continent, according to results released Monday.
Roughly 55 to 60 percent of the country felt Europe could defend itself without American military assistance, Reuters reported, citing a recent Forsa poll. Only 37 percent felt Europe needed the U.S.
President Donald Trump has been critical of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), expressing dissatisfaction with the NATO allies that fail to pay their fair share for collective defense. Germany in particular has been a target of constant criticism from the president in recent weeks.
“They have to step it up immediately,” Trump said at the NATO Summit earlier this month, bashing Germany for being a free rider and not investing enough in its defense. “Germany is a rich country. We are not going to put up with it,” the president added.
He considers it unfair that Germany, the European Union’s largest economy, spends only 1.24 percent of its GDP on national defense. The U.S., on the other hand, spends 3.5 percent, well above the 2 percent required for NATO allies, according to the latest NATO estimates.
While America’s NATO allies agreed to up their contributions, most Germans are opposed to Trump’s demands that Germany increase its defense spending. A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the German Press Agency DPA found that 75 percent are against raising defense spending to meet the president’s expectations, and 42 percent want U.S. troops out of Germany, while only 37 want U.S. troops to remain in the country. (RELATED: Vast Majority Of Germans Oppose Trump’s Insistence On NATO Spending Increase)
Overall, German confidence in U.S. leadership has declined. A 2017 PEW Research Center poll revealed that only 11 percent of Germans have confidence that the U.S. would do the right thing in international affairs, down from 86 percent one year earlier.
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