Record increase in EU military spending amid ‘demanding times’

Military spending in the European Union hit a record €240 billion in 2022 – up 6% on the previous year, the European Defense Agency (EDA) said on Thursday.

This is the eighth consecutive year of growth in the bloc, with many states defending the need for a significant increase due to the Russian threat and Ukraine war. 

Six out of 27 EU countries increased their military spending by more than 10% last year. Sweden saw a rise of more than 30%, as the country awaits NATO membership. 

Some countries bucked the trend, however. France only increased its military spending by 0.7% in 2022.

EU countries as a whole devoted 1.5% of their gross domestic product (GDP) to the defence sector – far below the 2% target set by NATO, which includes 22 EU members. 

Some €58 billion was invested in the defence sector, said the EDA, an agency responsible for improving defensive capabilities in the bloc. 

Despite the increased spending, Europe’s defence industry cannot meet demand from Ukraine as it battles the Russian invasion. 

Europeans have committed to supplying one million shells to Kyiv by March, though this ambitious objective already seems unattainable.

“Our armed forces must be ready to face much more demanding times,” the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell was quoted as saying in an EDA press release.

However, he acknowledged there were “significant gaps” in the bloc’s defensive capacity. 

“We continue to lag behind other players,” said Borrell. 

Russia plans to increase its military spending by 67% in 2024 – representing around 30% of its GDP.

Spending on defence research and development in the EU was down €200 million in 2022 compared to the previous year at €3.5 billion, according to the EDA.

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