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Military expenditure as percent of GDP, data t...

Military expenditure as percent of GDP Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Clara M. O’Donnell, Centre for European Reform, Feb. 1, 2013


Europe’s military spending is in free fall. As highlighted during a seminar organised by the CER in December as part of the FR-UK Defence Forum, the EU countries combined have reduced defence spending from €200 to €170 billion since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. In response, governments have signed up to a variety of new bilateral and multilateral initiatives. These are designed to limit the impact of budget cuts on their armed forces. But so far, the savings incurred pale in comparison. At the December discussions, participants estimated them at €200 to €300 million. Many sensitivities relating to national security make it hard for governments to implement collaborative defence efforts. But at a time when Europe’s neighbourhood is replete with instability and the United States is scaling back its own armed forces, Europeans need to do more to stem the damage to their militaries.


Notwithstanding their budget cuts, taken together EU states are still the second largest defence spenders in the world. And not all European countries are reducing the level of funding to their armed forces. According to a 2011 study for the European Parliament, Finland and Denmark have maintained military spending steady in recent years. Poland and Sweden have increased it… (more)