In 2016, the EU’s 28 Member States earmarked EUR 200 billion of public expenditure for ‘defence’, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union shows.
This is equivalent to 1.3 percent of GDP. This is much less than the amount spent on social protection (expenditure equivalent to 19.1 percent of GDP in 2016), health (7.1 percent) or education (4.7 percent), but higher than public spending on recreation, culture and religion (1.0 percent), environmental protection (0.7 percent) and housing and community amenities (0.6 percent).
In 2016, the ratio of government defence expenditure to GDP varied across EU Member States.
The lowest share of expenditure on defence was registered in Ireland (0.3 percent), Luxembourg (0.4 percent), Malta and Austria (both 0.6 percent), the Czech Republic and Hungary (both 0.7 percent), Romania and Slovenia (both with 0.9 percent), while the highest were recorded in Estonia (2.4 percent), Greece (2.1 percent), Great Britain (2 percent) and France (1.8 percent).
However, Romania’s expenditures on defense faced a growth last year. The country has budgeted the largest increase in defense spending in Eastern Europe in 2017 after US President Donald Trump said that US military support could depend on compliance NATO’s commitment to allocate 2 percent GDP.
Moreover, NATO member will spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defence every year for the next nine years, according to a military procurement plan for 2017-2026. However, Romania hit the NATO target of 2 percent in 2017.
In absolute terms, the United Kingdom spent the most on defence (EUR 47 billion in 2016). This is equivalent to almost a quarter (24 percent) of the total EU public expenditure on defence. It was followed by France (EUR 41 billion, or 20 percent of the EU total), Germany (EUR 33 billion, or 16 percent) and Italy (EUR 22 billion, or 11 percent). Together, these four Member States accounted for 71 percent of the total defence expenditure in the EU.