North Atlantic Treaty Organisation still struggling to meet U.S. spending demands

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Defense ministers of the NATO allies meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels, to discuss updates to the NATO command structure, increases in fair burden sharing, and NATO-EU cooperation, among other topics. In 2014, only 3 Allies spent 2% of GDP or more on defense.

In 2018, eight allies are expected to reach the 2 percent benchmark, up from just three in 2014, Stoltenberg said.

"We can not outsource Europe's security obligations to the United States", British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers' meeting, as reported by Reuters.

However, Jens Stoltenberg emphasized at a press conference on Wednesday the relevance of the command structure modernization, pointing out the current number of Alliance's personnel. European allies and Canada also have invested $19 billion more on major equipment during that same time, with 22 allies expected to invest 20 percent or more of their defense budgets on major capabilities by 2024.

"This should lead to significant improvements to our forces and their readiness", Stoltenberg said.

Mattis will urge members who have not proposed a defense budget to do so quickly, letting them know the US cannot fund the fight against global threats alone.

"Clearly NATO has reversed what was a downward trend, and so now we're well into the second year I believe, where the nations are spending more on defense", U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Sunday traveling with him to Europe.

"We can not outsource Europe's security obligations to the United States", British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters. Washington is concerned now that the bidding process might exclude US firms.

While France plans to increase defence spending by more than a third between 2017 and 2025, Spain has said it will not meet the 2024 target, while Belgium and Italy are also lagging. Allies committed to "move towards" 2 per cent, while Mr Trump now says 2 per cent is the "bare minimum". More in detail, Katie Wheelbarger, a senior Pentagon official, said that: "Washington was supportive of Pesco as long as it's complementary to and not distracting from Nato's activities and requirements".



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