Britain will warn NATO allies in the European Union to pay their “fair share” on defence, with just three other EU countries meeting their obliged minimum two per cent contribution last year.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon will use a Brussels summit on Monday to tell his European counterparts that they must abandon plans for an EU army and back the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), reports The Telegraph.
It comes after President-elect Donald Trump criticised NATO members during the election campaign for not fulfilling their obligations on defence whilst the U.S funds 72 per cent of the alliance’s expenditure.
“You can’t forget the bills. [Nato members] have an obligation to make payments. Many Nato nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing.
“Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfil their obligations to us, the answer is yes [they can rely on our support].”
Last year, just five of the 28 members of the bloc spent above two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence: the United States, 3.62 per cent; Greece, 2.46 per cent; Poland, 2.18 per cent; the UK, 2.07 per cent; and Estonia, 2.04 per cent.
On average, defence spending from European nations has fallen from 1.7 per cent to 1.4 per cent, with founding NATO members Belgium, Italy, and Luxembourg contributing less than one per cent. Defence spending in NATO has fallen from £850bn in 2008 to £700 billion last year.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that Mr. Trump’s election will give added “impetus” to Britain’s bid to encourage other EU nations to spend more on defence.
The source added: “The Americans in the past have said we’ll go along with it and keep making a bigger contribution than everyone else in Nato… If the new administration says you need to buck your ideas up that will concentrate minds.”
However, the election of the Mr. Trump to the White House has renewed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s fervour for an EU army.
On Wednesday he said: “The Americans, to whom we owe much … will not ensure the security of the Europeans in the long term. We have to do this ourselves.”
Mr. Juncker added: “That is why we need a new start in the field of European defence, up to the goal of setting up a European army.”
Last month, the defence secretary confirmed that Britain will veto an EU army. “That is not going to happen,” Sir Michael said. “We are full members of the EU and we will go on resisting any attempt to set up a rival to Nato.”
“We have always been concerned about unnecessarily duplicating what we already have in Nato,” he added.