President Donald Trump has secured a victory over the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after long butting heads with the international group over funding matters, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announcing Wednesday that NATO will take further steps to ensure that member nations uphold their pledges and pay their fair share.
Stoltenberg vowed that both Europe and Canada will raise defense spending at the fastest pace for three years in 2017 in a move that is partly aimed at reassuring the United States that they will take on a larger share of the costs, Reuters reported.
During his first meeting with NATO in May, Trump chided his European counterparts for failing to uphold their commitments to allocate 2 percent of their GDP toward joint defense spending. Almost across the board, NATO’s European member nations have dropped their NATO contributions to record lows.
“NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations,” Trump demanded, targeting those 22 out of 28 members who were spending far less than they should. “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.”
Stoltenberg indicated that Europe and Canada would hike up their NATO contributions by 4.3 percent, which amounts to roughly $280 billion. While it is not clear how close they are to reaching the 2 percent threshold, Stoltenberg was sure to frame the move as an olive branch to the Trump administration.
“For me, America First is not America alone,” he said. “No other great power has that. China, Russia do not have anything like the U.S. has in NATO, 28 allies that stand together with the United States, which provide support.”
A NATO report released Thursday showed that only the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Romania, and Poland are spending 2 percent or more of their GDP on NATO costs, with the U.S. surpassing the nearest contributor by a full point. Whereas the U.S. contributed 3.6 percent of its GDP, France contributes 1.79 percent, Canada 1.31 percent, Germany 1.22 percent, and Spain 0.92 percent.