Germany’s former Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen has become the new President of the European Commission. Amidst the long list of challenges awaiting her, von der Leyen must find a way to mitigate political disputes within the EU and between the U.S. and NATO to consolidate conflicting visions of European defense.
It’s time we ditch the two percent (or any percent) of GDP metric for allied defense spending and focus on what really matters—capability, capacity, readiness, and interoperability. In the end, it’s not about how much of our allies’ economic output is directed to defense, and this metric does little to incentivize the results we want to see.
Discussion over transatlantic security spending has increasingly focused on whether NATO members are spending 2% of their GDP on defense and the merits of 2% as a metric for assessing burden sharing. In addition to analyzing current NATO metrics, this report examines several alternatives that provide a broader understanding of collective security contributions and could improve the rigor of security spending analysis.
The official 2 percent threshold, while mandated at the 2014 Wales Summit, has long been understood as an unofficial spending target for NATO members. According to 2017 estimates illustrated in the graphic, only four of the 28 NATO member states meet the 2 percent spending level while 15 are expected to meet it by 2024..