There is no penalty for not gratifying the 2% target. Each country decides how much it is going to spend and what it will spend on. If one country spends less or more than the guideline, other countries are not obliged to follow suit .
And despite Trump’s repeated suggestion that NATO members owe the US, members do not pay each other .
NATO members do contribute to a collective budget for the alliance. There’s a civilian budget of about $286 million for 2018, used mainly to fund the NATO headquarters in Belgium and its administration .
And there’s a military budget of $1.54 billion for 2018, which is used to fund some operations and the NATO strategic command center, as well as training and research. That is a fraction compared with overall spending on defense by member countries, which NATO calculates will total more than $936 billion in 2018.
There is also a joint budget for the NATO Security Investment Programme, which covers major construction and command and control system investments. The budget for that program is capped at $817 million for 2018.
Member countries contribute to these NATO budgets in accordance with an agreed cost-sharing formula based on gross national income. The US pays 22.1% of these budgets, while Germany pays 14.8%, for example. All members are up to date on these contributions .
Trump isn’t the first US president to push for higher defense spending by other NATO members. In 2014, at a NATO summit in Wales, President Barack Obama pushed for more spending by members who were falling short of the 2% target. The summit conclude with a group pledge to move toward the target within a decade. The confederation was galvanized that year by Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and again in 2015 with the rise of ISIS .
That 2014 pledge appears to be holding .
The alliance as a whole increased defense spending for the first time in two decades in 2015. Spending is rising across the board for European each member of NATO and in Canada as well, increasing by 3.14% in 2016 and a whopping 5.27% in 2017.
Since taking office, Trump has boosted US funding for the US military presence in Europe by 40% .
In 2016, 22 of 28 NATO members increased their defense budgets .
Last year, after Montenegro became the newest member, 28 out of the 29 alliance members — all but Canada — increased their defense spending again, boosting it by 1.8% or $17 billion .
Right now, only five NATO members are expected to meet the 2% target by the end of 2018: the US, Greece, Estonia, the UK and Latvia. Another three — Poland, Lithuania and Romania — don’t quite gratify the 2 %, but NATO expects them to within the year .
The remaining 21 are lagging, although most have increased spending .
Germany, which came in for Trump’s special ire this summit, is set to expend 1.24% of its GDP on defense in 2018. France is at 1.81% of GDP and Spain is expending 0.93%, while tiny Luxembourg, which had fewer than 1,000 troops in its military last year, is set to expend 0.55% of its GDP on defense in 2018.
Belgium, which hosts NATO, is on track to expend 0.93% of its GDP for this year .
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