NATO PA: pandemic budget pressures must not weaken defence investment

23 November 2020

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Sunday sent a clear message to Allied governments that financial pressures stemming from the COVID-19 crisis should not weaken commitments to vital defence investments at this time of heightened international tension.  
“Security challenges for Allies have not diminished, but have in fact been amplified, adding further complexity to an already volatile and increasingly dangerous international security environment,” NATO PA lawmakers cautioned. 
Draft policy recommendations endorsed by the Assembly’s Defence and Security Committee urged Allies to recommit to a target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence, of which 20% should be dedicated to major equipment investments. 
“Continued increased defence investments act not only as a safeguard against future threats, but also against the next potential pandemic,” said the draft resolution scheduled for adoption Monday by the full Assembly, which is holding its Annual Session online because of the pandemic. 
French Senator Cédric Perrin, who drafted the resolution, noted that European Allies and Canada have increased total defence spending for six consecutive years. New investments of over USD 130 billion since 2016 have narrowed the spending gap with the United States. 
Ten Allies now surpass the 2% GDP benchmark, compared to just three when it was adopted in 2014. 
Lawmakers applauded Allied forces’ action during the pandemic, notably the coordination and oversight of hundreds of medical relief missions which has mobilised half a million men and women in support of medical and civilian services. 
New defence investments should strengthen infrastructure and institutions needed to build resilience against the risk of future pandemics, while allowing armed forces to focus on potential external threats, the Committee recommended. Increased cooperation with the European Union, particularly on military mobility, can ensure the efficient movement of forces and medical supplies.   
The resolution cautioned Allies to better protect critical infrastructure from “predatory investments”, especially by “strategic rival” countries and to reduce “overreliance on any single supplier country of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and other technologies that may be critical during a future crisis.”  
It also denounced continued Russian “provocations” which “seek to probe NATO forces’ readiness on land, in the air, at sea and in space.”