Poland’s Military Spending Rising, Amid Concerns that Europe is ‘Not Pulling its Weight’

Poland is one of just two EU countries that will increase its military spending in line with NATO-approved levels – making it the fifth biggest power in the European Union.

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Poland’s government has recently announced plans to bolster its defences with missiles from the United States, and helicopters from France, as part of a 130 billion złoty military modernisation programme. The spending involved will help the country reach the NATO target of 2 per cent of GDP by 2016.

Apart from Poland, only France is taking similar steps. In the UK, which has numerically the largest army in the EU, spending is set to drop from its current 2.1 per cent of GDP, to 1.7 per cent by 2020. Germany spends just 1.2 per cent.

Poland’s president, Bronisław Komorowski, has described Polish military spending commitment as a very tangible, very clear engagement’ with NATO. However, there are concerns in the United States .

However, there are concerns about the EU level of spending.

Ashron Carter, US defence secretary, said in April that lack of financial commitment to military development in Europe had ‘eroded’ the region’s ability to be a capable US ally.

Mr Carter said: “They are not doing enough. They are spending a smaller share of their GDP than they have in the past, than we do now, and than many, like Russia, are spending. It’s too low.”

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, said decreased spending elsewhere in Europe was a worrying trend, adding that it could lead to a ‘meltdown’ in Europe’s defence capabilities.

Sam Perlo-Freeman, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told the newspaper Rzeczpospolita that Poland’s decision to increase military spending was a response to international threats.

He said: “The war in Ukraine has mobilised increased defence spending only in those EU countries situated to the east. For those in the west, consolidating public finances is still the priority.”

Other countries in the region, such as Lithuania, could follow suit, as Russia – despite being deep in financial crisis – increases its own military spending by as much as 15 per cent. The Washington International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that this puts Moscow’s military spending at some 4.5 per cent of GDP. This is more than the 3.5 per cent of the United States, but, złoty for złoty, Washington is nevertheless set to spend seven times more than Moscow on defence this year.