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Read the full policy briefing here
A policy briefing by The Henry Jackson Society – What the European Union owes the United Kingdom – highlights how European defence is substantially dependent upon the United Kingdom’s financial contributions.
Countries on the European mainland that are members of both NATO and the EU shortchanged the alliance – and therefore their own security – by over US$96 billion in 2016, and in total by US$451 billion over the past five-year period (2012-2016). The countries that failed to reach their 2% GDP defence spending target include:
At a time when the Government is in detailed financial negotiations with the EU, it would be a pertinent reminder to Brussels that the UK is unwavering in its commitment to European defence and has consistently footed the bill for security on the continent.
Over this past five-year period, British defence spending – at US$285.5 billion – accounts for just under a third (32%) of spending by countries in both NATO and the EU, a sizeable figure that still conceals its true value, not least because many EU countries’ armed forces are unable to fight at the highest intensities, even in self-defence.
When excluding the UK, the only states belonging both to NATO and the EU that consistently (2012-2016) spend more than 2% of their GDP on defence account for just 13% of the transatlantic alliance’s total European surplus, meaning that the UK contributes 87%.
As a result, Britain has effectively subsidised the security and defence of the European mainland by an extra US$23.9 billion from 2012-2016.
The briefing also finds:
Author of the report, James Rogers, Director of the Global Britain programme at The Henry Jackson Society commented on the briefing’s findings:
“In recent months, the United Kingdom has been disparaged by many Europeans for its decision to leave the EU. Some have gone so far as to construct it as a kind of pariah state. However, as this Policy Briefing shows, this depiction is entirely unwarranted. Britain remains deeply committed to the security of Europe as the largest European military and foreign aid spender. Moreover, most European countries, insofar as they have short-changed both NATO and the world’s poorest people by hundreds of billions of dollars over the past five years, have their own shortcomings, which should not be overlooked.”