Germany intends to increase its defense spending in coming years to meet NATO’s target of 2 percent of gross domestic product, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.
President Donald Trump has been vocal in his criticism of Germany’s defense spending since taking office. The country currently allocates about 1.2 percent of GDP on defense, and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently said Germany has no intention to increase it. (RELATED: Trump Allegedly Handed Merkel A $370 Billion Bill For NATO)
Merkel said the government intends to stand by the Cardiff agreement from 2014 and gradually invest more resources in defense.
“The entire German government agreed to the Cardiff agreement,” Merkel said at a press conference Thursday following her meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Politico reports. “We will adhere to this, and we will work towards it.”
Stoltenberg said he felt “encouraged” to see countries end years of defense cuts, which would lead to meeting the 2 percent target “in the long run.”
“I am very encouraged seeing what European NATO members and Canada have done,” he said. “What we promised was to stop the cuts, gradually increase and then move toward 2 percent, and actually Germany and many of the European allies have started to do exactly that.”
Germany — which turned pacifist after starting and losing two world wars in the 20th century — recently started a number of new defense initiatives with France, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced plans in February to expand the German military from 178,000 troops to 198,000 by 2024.