Germany, the largest economy in the EU and the second largest in NATO, has significantly increased its defense spending this year, German news agency dpa reported Friday. The federal government in Berlin reported to NATO this week that it aims for spending worth 47.32 billion euros ($52.86 billion). That is an increase of 5 billion euros against 2018 and a 1.35 percent share of the country’s gross domestic product, still a long way off the 2 percent target NATO members have set for themselves. Last year’s defense spending amounted to 1.23 percent of its GDP.
The spending hike, the largest since the end of the Cold War, comes in the face of sustained criticism from Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked NATO allies, particularly Germany, for falling far short of meeting the target of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their military, accusing them of freeloading off the U.S. military’s might.
His recurrent demand over defense spending has become the biggest source of internal strain. In May 2017, Trump made a memorable impression on leaders from Canada and European nations during his first NATO summit. During a speech outside NATO’s new Brussels headquarters, he publicly humiliated them. Trump also cast doubt on whether they could count on Washington to fulfill NATO’s collective defense clause. Trump also delayed a summit last year with fresh demands on burden sharing.