British defence spending was 1.98% of GDP in 2016 say the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 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.”

Recently, Labour MP Wayne David claimed that the 2% target was being met including retired personnel’s pensions, the government have so far declined to comment on this.

The United States has repeatedly called on European allies to contribute more and in recent years NATO’s Secretary General described declining European defence budgets as unsustainable when compared with increased Russian spending on its military.


  1. Strip out the foreign aid that makes up 1/5th of the MODs budget and defence spending is much lower than advertised and isn’t increasing at all.

  2. 2.21% according to NATO figures, lot’s of exchange rates fluctuation to cope with this year so plenty to play around with …..

    • Agreed Albion – the nuclear deterrent now accounts for 8-10% of the defence budget. Prior to Osborne, that was covered by the Treasury… another Cameron gift…… as well as an underfunded SDSR…

  3. First, the 2% target is the MINIMUM mandated by NATO – not something to aspire to! Second, everyone knows HMG’s claim of the U.K. meeting the target is bogus as it’s common knowledge they have included everything but the kitchen sink to make up the numbers – even then they only just make it! If HMG truly spent 2% on the Armed Forces we wouldn’t be quite in the dire straits we find ourselves in and whilst not ideal, we would be in much better shape… still, the most worrying aspect is that Fallon will continue to delude himself that everything is just fine and our decline will continue with yet more cuts and capability gaps…. worrying times….


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