Germany plans to meet NATO’s 2 percent of GDP spending target by 2031 as part of a beefed-up military apparatus, the country’s Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday.
Under the spending plans, Germany will allocate 1.5 percent of GDP to defense in 2024, rising to the 2 percent — the established target for members of the alliance — seven years later. That’s an increase on the short-term commitment and the first time Kramp-Karrenbauer has picked a date for meeting the overall 2 percent target.
At present, the EU’s richest country spends around 1.3 percent on defense. But U.S. President Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of Germany’s military spending, repeatedly calling on Berlin to pull its weight within NATO.
But Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also head of the ruling Christian Democratic Union and a contender to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the move is “not because the American president — and not only the current one — demands that, but because it is in our own security interest.”
She also supported the creation of a National Security Council, which would be used to coordinate policies within the government.
“A country of our size and economic and technological power, a country with our geostrategic position and our global interests, simply cannot stand on the sidelines and watch,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer during a speech at a military university in Munich.
On Friday morning, Kramp-Karrenbauer will meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks at her ministry in Berlin. Her predecessor as defense minister, incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, will also be in Berlin on Friday.
Kramp-Karrenbauer also said she intends to push defense cooperation during Germany’s term at the helm of the rotating Council of the EU presidency in the second half of 2020, and will propose that the defense ministers of France, the U.K. and Germany meet for regular talks in a trilateral format.
The commitment comes as French President Emmanuel Macron was quoted as saying: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” during an interview with The Economist published Thursday.