EC President Resists Raising Defense Spending

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker encouraged European nations to resist the efforts of US President Donald Trump and his cabinet to make them contribute more to the common defense through the NATO alliance. “It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said on Feb. 16 at the Munich Security Conference, according to a Reuters report. He said that nations like Germany would see their budget surplus dissipate if they increased defense spending to two percent of GDP—a target agreed upon at the Wales and Warsaw Summits. “I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he added. “If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending.” Speaking at a NATO Summit the same day, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the United States can no longer afford to shoulder the lionshare of funding of NATO’s collective defense and strongly urged other alliance members to meet the two percent goal. “The message I delivered in Brussels was expected,” he said at the Munich conference, according to Politico. “It was well received by my fellow defense ministers … and aligned with the message of [NATO] Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg.”