European leaders have hastened to pledge their commitment to the alliance and respond to the US president’s criticism over insufficient military spending and violating the earlier agreed target of 2% of GDP target ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, threatening to become a stress test for the 50 year old alliance.
French President Emmanuel Macron is to sign an $18.8 billion increase in defense spending on July 13, The Telegraph reports. According to the draft law, France will boost its military spending gradually over the next seven years to meet the NATO’s requirement of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP). However, more than half of this is to be spent after 2022, after Macron’s current term in office.
Germany, another NATO heavyweight and Europe’s largest economy, has also pledged its allegiance to meet the 2% of GDP target just ahead of the upcoming summit of the transatlantic alliance. Chancellor Angela Merkel dedicated her weekly video podcast to the importance of NATO, confirming Germany’s previously articulated intention to spend more on the military. In her address, she pointed out that challenges to NATO have changed drastically over recent years and the organization needs to “focus more on defending the alliance.”
“To do that we have to make necessary arrangements, for example through a presence in central and Eastern European countries,” she stated, pointing out that the alliance must show a “determination to protect…