Since 2014, defence spending on the continent and in Canada has increased. In 2014, only three NATO allies met the 2 percent of gross domestic product on defence guideline.
This year eight allies should hit the mark, and by 2024 there should be 15.
“All NATO allies have put forward plans to increase spending in real terms,” alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
“This is major progress and it is a very good start. But we still have a long way to go and hard work ahead.”
He noted that after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, 80 percent of NATO’s defence spending will come from non-EU allies.
Stoltenbeg also said that merging EU and NATO assets of the European allies will be crucial for defence.
“If the EU actions complement NATO and are not seen as an alternative, then I see great potential for improving European security,” he said. “That is why a closer NATO-EU cooperation is vital.”
Stoltenberg also discussed what he called “the re-emergence of nuclear challenges.”
After the Cold War, the alliance placed nuclear issues on the back burner, but Russia’s modernisation effort, Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear nation placed it in the forefront once again.
“Let me be clear, our goal is a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as they exist NATO will remain a nuclear alliance,” the secretary general said.
“A world where Russia, China and North Korea have nuclear weapons, but NATO does not, is not a safer world. That is why the ultimate guarantee of security is the strategic nuclear forces of allies, particularly those of the United States.”
Stoltenberg said the world may be more dangerous and unpredictable now, but he feels conflict is not inevitable.
“To preserve the peace, we need the military strength of the alliance, combined with the political courage to seek dialogue, to deescalate, reduce tensions and find peaceful solutions to our differences,” he said.