Belgium pledges to almost double its defence spending in the next decade

Belgium pledges to almost double its defence spending in the next decade
Credit: Belga

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo committed to a 2% GDP defence spending at this week’s NATO summit in Madrid.

De Croo, in his address to the leaders of the Atlantic Alliance's 31 member countries, detailed Belgium's plan for increasing its defence budget to 2% of GDP.

However, he refrained from confirming a precise timeline for reaching this minimum objective, as requested by NATO for all its members by 2024.

A 2035 deadline had been previously mentioned by Belgium’s NATO ambassador, Pascal Heyman, in a correspondence to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this year.

Belgium's phased path towards defence commitment

After intense negotiations among Belgium's seven ruling coalition parties, the government in mid-June agreed on a gradual progression to reach the 2% of GDP target, under six conditions.

The plan outlines a gradual defence spending increase to 1.54% of GDP by 2030 - approximately €10 billion, in contrast to the 1.18% allocated this year, as per NATO's recent data.

Notably, Belgium is among the few countries that have submitted such a commitment to NATO, stated the Prime Minister's aides.

Denmark has similarly pledged to meet the 2% defence spending goal, aiming for 2033.

In a broader context, De Croo emphasised the necessity for more military capabilities and better spending. He called for an end to fragmentation, particularly among European Allies. "To strengthen the Alliance's European pillar, we must develop a robust and sustainable defence industry in Europe," he urged.

De Croo praised the recent steps taken by the European Union in this direction, underscoring that an amplified European commitment to defence would be advantageous for both Europe and NATO.

The Prime Minister also welcomed the decision to augment common funding within NATO, which contributes to the organization's civilian and military budgets and infrastructure projects. "Although this increase is imperative, we must adhere to the principles of affordability, sustainability, and accountability to truly strengthen our common security," De Croo concluded.

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