NATO ‘must become more agile and share burdens if it is to tackle growing threats’, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will say today.

Michael Fallon is understood to be pressing NATO members to ‘step up’ defence spending’ during a two-day defence meeting at NATO HQ in Brussels.

Michael Fallon was the first minister US Defense Secretary Mattis called after his appointment, which the MoD say reflects ‘the strength of the UK-US Defence relationship’

It is understood that their their hour-long meeting at NATO HQ was the first bilateral working session undertaken today.

This comes as the International Institute for Strategic Studies claim British defence spending was 1.98% of GDP in 2016, below the 2% target set out by NATO.

In 2006, NATO allies set a target to spend 2% of Gross Domestic Product on defence. The UK oftens meets this target but when reporting its defence expenditure to NATO, the UK now includes several items of expenditure which had not previously been included.

IISS director general John Chipman said:

“In 2016, only two European Nato states – Greece and Estonia – met the aim to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence, down from four European states that met this measure in 2015. The UK dipped slightly below this at 1.98 per cent, as its economy grew faster in 2016 than its defence spending.

Nonetheless, the UK remained the only European state in the world’s top five defence spenders in 2016. If all Nato European countries were in 2016 to have met this 2 per cent of GDP target, their defence spending would have needed to rise by over 40 per cent.”

The Ministry of Defence however has denied the United Kingdom has failed to reach NATO’s defence spending target of 2% of GDP.

An MOD Spokesperson said:

“These figures are wrong: NATO’s own figures clearly show that the UK spends over 2% of its GDP on defence.

Our defence budget is the biggest in Europe, the second largest in NATO, and it is growing each year as we invest £178 billion in new equipment and the UK steps up globally, with new ships, submarines and aircraft over the next decade.”

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“NATO has been a guarantee of mutual security for more than half a century. Britain is now calling for our partners to step up and share burdens on spending and help it become more agile in dealing with new threats including cyber and terrorism.

As leading player in the Alliance we recognise the importance of backing up our operational and exercise commitments with investment in new equipment to deal with threats to our security.”

It is understood that over the two-day ministerial meeting, defence leaders will discuss issues such as ‘protecting NATO’s southern border, developing NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, and strengthening the transatlantic bond’.


  1. £178 billion is that going to BAE SYSTEMS Michael Fallon should be sacked from this job he is as bad as John Nott in 1982 Fallon is blinkered on BAE we need new SSN and not Astutes we could do deal with Trump are new friend Virginia (SSN 774) class.

  2. Fallon is disingenuous to say the least. He didn’t tell his audience that the government used every creative accounting trick in the book – such as rolling pensions and intelligence funds into the defence budget – to get us up to the 2% threshold. Even then we only JUST make it! The fact remains that our Armed Forces are in dire straits and face serious and glaring capability gaps (e.g. no ASM for the RN after next year). 2% is the NATO absolute minimum and not the ideal and Mr Fallon would do well to remember that.

    • Sorry David the people who decide who has paid what is NATO itself not the UK Government. And NATO has confirmed we do meet and indeed exceed that criteria.

      As for that IISS report its just not worth reading as its basic calculation rates are faulty. NATO figures say that the UK spent 2.21% of GDP on defence last year. That figure is based on analysis which was published last July meaning they were based on forecasts for both GDP and spending. NATO later said that it had looked at the final numbers for 2016 and could confirm that the UK was still meeting the 2% target, but it would not be releasing the full figures until next month.

      As this is a NATO target it is their methodology that is important. Before making the calculation NATO converts both defence spending and GDP into US dollars at 2010 exchange rates and prices. There are disagreements about what should and what should not count as military spending – whether pensions paid to soldiers’ widows count, for example. But IISS has calculated the figure very differently. It gets to a figure of £38.3bn for UK defence spending in 2016. If you divide that by the ONS figure for GDP you get 2.05%, but that’s not what the IISS has done. It has converted all the figures into US dollars using International Monetary Fund exchange rates and also used IMF GDP figures.

      When you do that, you get to 1.98%.

      However you cut the cake one thing stands out. Germany is using the low value Euro (which is controlled in Frankfurt) to bolster its export surplus having ditched the high value Deutsche Mark. Its why they drove the Euro so hard. So they are the rich man of the EU but then shove their defence onto the USA and the UK. Trump and Matis will not wear that much longer and why should they. Unless the Germans (and the French actually) start taking full responsibility for their own defence the USA will just walk away. Do not have ANY doubts about that. But what they will not be doing is walking away from the UK. Trump has made that abundantly clear: Our relationship is Special, they respect our capabilities, the fact we DO spend up to the NATO target, how we work with US Forces (yes as a junior partner in many cases) and are happy to assist us rebuild our capabilities.

      • Where do you think NATO get their information from Chris?

        Ok, I’ll tell you; they get their info from the MOD themselves…. the same MOD who classify the early retirement lump-sum for Doris in accounts as ‘defence spending’.

        NATO publish the data they are given by its members.

  3. Very well put Dave.

    Has anyone noticed Airforce Monthly over the last few years? The British military used to feature heavily with new purchases; now we are lucky to be featured in a paragraph!

    Politicians do not realise what they once had, and Fallon will one day have his bluff called.

  4. It is clear that Britain is not spending 2% on defence. £11bn is foreign aid for gods sake!!!

    As for £178bn this is circa £100-120bn on support contracts and the remainder on hardware over 10 years – hardly massive.

    Britain should really be looking at £1bn per week on defence (£52bn p.a.) and the ridiculous waste on foreign aid MUST be stopped, as e en the guy who ran it says it is a mad rush to throw money at any foreign nation willing to take it.

    IF we must offer foreign aid may I suggest we send our old (Reconditioned) land rovers, diggers, trucks etc and perhaps near end date rations and clothing (dyed a non military colour of course).

    I would also like to see us offer more medical aid than currently – but then again that is needed in the NHS.

    £11bn a year added to actual military spending will make a massive difference to the working conditions, survivability and living conditions of military personnel and their families and we should be ashamed at how we are treating them just to look good on some UN stats.

    • If the MOD budget was actually spent on defence instead of (as you say) on foreign aid then there would be little to worry about.

  5. We need to go to 3% gdp to defence expenditure ratio.
    raise income tax by 5p per pound and spend the extra money on defence, nhs, social care, education and infrastructure.
    simple calculation that if 1p increase in income tax was ring fenced for defence uk defence expenditure would increase by £5billion a year. Easily enough to fix the RNs woes and provide a small increase in manpower RN needs 3000-5000 more personnel. RAF needs to have additional eurofighter squadrons to defend uk airspace and ensure all f35bs planned in 2015 sdsr are actually fully funded and come into service.
    the army needs at least 15-20,000 more soldiers and provision to develop a replacement for challenger 2 (aka challenger 3). A further 2-3 armoured regiments of MBTs are needed easy to provide for just bring challengers 2s out of storage and back into service.

  6. Also agree about dropping foreign aid budget by at least 50% would be a very good idea and publically supported.
    £2 billion extra for defence per annum from foreign aid would be very helpful for our armed forces.
    the rest of the money from reduced foreign aid budget (3-4 billion per year) can go back into social care in England and Wales to help care for our most vulnerable elderly and disabled people in society. Remember no extra money is needed in Scotland as they already get free social care, free prescriptions, free university places courtesy of English and Welsh tax payers.
    I do think we need to raise income tax though by 5p per pound. Most averagely earning people like myself will not really notice the increase but crucially the rich in society will notice as proportionally they will pay more. Income tax really is the only fair tax to raise.


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