Warsaw, 14 November 2010 - EUROPEAN ALLIES ARE NOT LIVING UP TO COMMITMENTS ON DEFENCE SPENDING, NATO OFFICIAL SAYS
As austerity measures start to bite across the Alliance, budget cuts are having an impact on defence spending by NATO members, says Frank Boland, director of force planning with NATO’s Defence Policy and Planning Directorate. Co-operation among states has the potential to bring much-needed efficiencies, but there are considerable political obstacles, he said.
Only five of the 28 allies spent the recommended 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence and security last year, he told the Alliance’s Parliamentary Assembly members of the Economics and Security Committee on yesterday (Saturday 13 November), convened in the Polish capital for its 2010 annual session.
At this rate, he noted Europe might become a “protectorate” of the
For the last 50 years, European allies “have been able to rely on
He said he was particularly concerned that spending levels might not rebound after the financial crisis, as slimmed-down security budgets are adopted.
As a member of the audience pointed out, the drop in military investment by some countries could be hard to reconcile with their obligations under the
NATO’s force planning process is designed to avoid just such a mismatch, Boland explained, and to ensure a fair sharing of the burden on different members’ resources.
During the debate which followed his presentation, several possible solutions were discussed. Common procurement for example, could introduce economies of sale to the procurement process. Also, some NATO countries have more expertise in dealing with suppliers than others, Boland said, and could benefit from the experience of their Allies.
Such co-ordination would also help ensure that industrial and research interests do not drive production and procurement of defence-related goods and services.
However, the very nature of military investment makes it politically difficult to share the relevant information, he conceded. He dismissed the suggestion that NATO headquarters in
Regarding the suggestion from the floor that parliamentary delegations might observe other Allies’ procurement as a benchmarking exercise, Boland said that it was entirely within the remit of the parliaments concerned, but that he thought “it would produce interesting results”.
Budgets are suffering not only from a lack of co-operation among supposed allies, Boland said, but also from the changing nature of operations, especially “out of area”.
But adapting to the new requirements was bound to take time, Boland said. Defence spending tends to be committed five or six years ahead, so now was the time to start looking at future requirements.