For the first time in years European NATO states and Canada have increased their defence budget. Belgium though has bucked the trend with downward spending still continuing, so we can expect that it’s with a heavy heart that Belgian premier Charles Michel will be heading to the NATO summit in Warsaw this week.
Belgian defence spending is at 0.85% of national output. NATO’s goal is a 2% expenditure. Only Luxembourg performs worse than Belgium.
After defence spending in Europe and Canada rose by 0.6% NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is on the right road, but in a possible admonition to Belgium added that some allies are continuing to make cutbacks.
Though Belgium is one of the few countries with lower defence spending the Belgian cabinet recently approved 9.2 billion euros worth of investments over the next fifteen years. In this way Mr Michel will be hoping to convince his partners that Belgium is still on the right track. The prime minister intends to brief the Belgian defence select committee on the government’s strategic defence vision for the future on Wednesday.
Belgian defence minister Steven Vandeput says that in time Belgian defence spending should rise to between 1.2% and 1.5% of national output. This will mean that Belgian defence spending is near the NATO mean. Mr Vandeput believes these figure are more realistic than the 2% NATO goal.